SP attacks Congress over caste census, but relies on turncoats in MP election | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

SP attacks Congress over caste census, but relies on turncoats in MP election

Nov 15, 2023 06:52 AM IST

SP chief Akhilesh Yadav on Tuesday attacked its INDIA ally Congress over its demand for a caste census, and asked why the party did not conduct such an exercise when it was in power at the Centre.

Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav on Tuesday attacked its Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) ally Congress over its demand for a caste census, and asked why the party did not conduct such an exercise when it was in power at the Centre.

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Yadav also termed the Congress’s demand a “miracle” and took a swipe at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his remark that a caste census would serve as an “X-ray” to understand details of various communities.

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“The previous governments did not act on a caste census due to their faulty policies,” Yadav said in Satna district of poll-bound Madhya Pradesh.

“An X-ray was the need of thattime. Now, we have MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT (computed tomography) scans. The disease has now spread. If this problem was solved back then, such a gap wouldn’t have existed in society today.” he added.

After the Bihar government announced the findings of the state’s caste survey in October, several Opposition parties, including the Congress, have been pressing for a similar exercise and revisiting the reservation formula to ensure adequate representation of various castes based on their numbers.

Gandhi has been pushing for ‘Jitni Abadi, Utna Haq’ (representation as per numbers). Other political parties that are part of the INDIA bloc such as the SP, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Janata Dal (United) too have been demanding a caste-based enumeration.

The issue has also been raised in various states, particularly in poll-bound Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

On Monday, Gandhi reiterated his party’s commitment to holding a caste census in Madhya Pradesh if it is voted to power in the assembly elections.

“If we come to power in the state, we guarantee that we will conduct a caste census. Everybody needs to know about their strength in the country,” he said during a poll campaign in the state’s Neemuch district.

Voting in Madhya Pradesh is scheduled to be held on November 17; the results will be declared on December 3.

It is not for the first time that Yadav has attacked the Congress amid INDIA bloc’s attempts to forge unity to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre in the Lok Sabha elections next year.

The two parties have been at loggerheads following the breakdown in seat-sharing talks for the Madhya Pradesh assembly elections. While the SP has accused the Congress of not following the “coalition dharma”, the latter accused the SP of not sharing names of its possible candidates for the seats being offered.

A former MP Samajwadi Party chief, who was not willing to be named, said the Congress was willing to give four seats to the SP in the state and wanted to know names of the candidates for these seats. “The SP was not willing to provide the names, saying the Congress cannot interfere in the party’s ticket selection,” the leader said.

However, despite the ongoing feud between the two parties, the SP is relying on a number of Congress rebels to make a mark in the heartland state, an SP leader said. “The SP is likely to have an impact on a handful of seats,” the leader said, seeking anonymity.

Of the 14 candidates fielded by SP in Vindhya, and Bundelkhand regions of MP and neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, 10 are Congress rebels. Similarly, in Gwalior-Chambal region, of the 12 candidates fielded by the party, eight are Congress rebels.

The vote share of the Akhilesh Uadav-led party in MP has seen a decline in recent years. In 2008, it secured roughly 3.5% of the votes and had three MLAs. A decade later, its vote share fell to 1.3% and had one lawmaker in the 230-member MP assembly.

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    Chetan Chauhan is National Affairs Editor. A journalist for over two decades, he has written extensively on social sector and politics with special focus on environment and political economy.

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