RSS, BJP attacking Basavanna’s ideals of equality, says Rahul Gandhi; asks PM to release caste census data

He expressed confidence that the Congress would win the 10 May Assembly polls in Karnataka with absolute majority.

BySouth First Desk

Published Apr 17, 2023 | 8:03 PM Updated Apr 17, 2023 | 8:03 PM

Rahul Gandhi speaking in Bidar. (Screengrab)

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday, 17 April, reiterated his stand that the 50 percent cap on reservation should be lifted, that the caste census should be made public so that OBCs are given better representation, and that Dalits and Adivasis are given reservation proportionate to their population in the country.

He also alleged that the BJP and its ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), are attacking democracy in the country.

Speaking at public meetings in Bhalki and Humnabad in north-eastern Karnataka, he said that Bidar was 12th century social reformer Basavanna’s “karma bhoomi”, and that the BJP and RSS were attacking Basavanna’s ideals of equal partnership, equal opportunities, and everyone moving ahead together.

Urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to release the 2011 census’ caste-based OBC categorisation data in the public domain and to provide reservation based on population, he also sought that the 50 percent cap on reservation be removed.

Also read: RSS-BJP’s long game to curb influence of mathas

‘Modi only wants votes’

“Modi only speaks about OBCs, but will not release the data. Modi only wants OBC votes… But Congress soon after coming to power will do it,” he said, adding that the grand old party truly wanted to give strength to OBCs, both politically and economically.

“If you can’t do it, quit, we will do it… Until we (Congress) come to power, we will put all the required pressure on the Modi government with our OBC- and reservation-related demands,” he added

“Bidar is Basavanna’s (12th century social reformer) ‘karma bhoomi’. If someone first spoke about democracy and showed the path towards democracy, it was Basavanna. It is sad that today, across the country, people from the RSS and BJP are attacking democracy,” Gandhi said.

“They are spreading hatred and violence in Hindustan, and they are taking away money from the poor and weaker sections and giving it to two or three rich people,” he added.

He expressed confidence that the Congress would win the 10 May Assembly polls in Karnataka with absolute majority, bagging at least 150 of the total 224 seats.

He urged the people to ensure that this happened, so that the ruling BJP would not resort to “buying” of MLAs after the polls, to “manufacture the mandate in its favour, by using the money it has earned through corruption while in power”.

South First opinion poll: Change of govt expected, Congress has edge

‘BJP won’t even get 40 seats’

The former AICC president said that the BJP, which ran a “40 percent commission government”, would not get even 40 seats in the elections.

AICC General Secretaries KC Venugopal and Randeep Singh Surjewala (in-charge of Karnataka), and state Congress working president and candidate from Bhalki Assembly seat Eshwar Khandre were among those present, while at the Humnabad public meeting they were joined by incumbent MLA and candidate Rajashekar B Patil.

Armed with the conviction that the Congress would come to power, Gandhi said that the party, after forming the government, would at its first Cabinet meeting take a decision on implementing its poll guarantees.

The Congress party has announced four poll guarantees: 200 units of free power for all households (Gruha Jyoti), ₹2,000 monthly assistance for the woman head of every family (Gruha Lakshmi), 10 kg of rice free to every member of a BPL household (Anna Bhagya), and ₹3,000 every month for graduate youth and ₹1,500 for diploma holders (both in the age group of 18-25) for two years (Yuva Nidhi), on coming to power in the state.

He said the Congress does not make “false promises” like Prime Minister Modi did such as depositing ₹15 lakh in every bank account, creation of jobs, and war against black money, among others.

Also read: No ‘Modi factor’ in Karnataka, says Veerappa Moily 

‘Will fulfil promises’

“Whoever becomes the chief minister of Karnataka, will convert guarantees into law, on the first day after coming to power,” he added.

Claiming credit on behalf of Congress for implementing Article 371(J), which grants special status to six backward districts of the Hyderabad-Karnataka region (renamed as Kalyana Karnataka), including Bidar, Gandhi said it had helped lakhs of people and it showed that his party always walked the talk.

“Our poll guarantees will help Karnataka’s poor, farmers, small traders and those in need, and not (just) two-to-three super rich like Adani,” he said.

Stating that he had raised questions on BJP’s “corruption” in Parliament, Gandhi said he only asked Narendra Modi what his relationship was with Adani that he had given India’s ports, airports and complete resources to one person — but following this questioning, he was disqualified as a Member of Parliament.

“I asked what and why it was done. Also I asked, ₹20,000 crore that are in Adani’s shell companies is whose money,” he said, alleging that for this his microphones were switched off in Parliament and he was not allowed to speak.

“Later, I was disqualified from the Lok Sabha. They are so scared about me questioning them about corruption in Parliament that they have removed me from Parliament,” he added.

‘40 percent commission’

Accusing the BJP government in Karnataka of rampant corruption and collecting “40 percent commission” from contractors, Gandhi said when the contractors’ association wrote a letter in this regard to Prime Minister Modi, who makes speeches against corruption, there was no answer.

Listing out the alleged corruption scandals in the state such as those relating to Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Limited, and to the jobs and PSI recruitment scams, he said the prime minister “says in speeches that he is against corruption”, but is “quiet” on what is happening in Karnataka.

“They (BJP govt) are taking 40 percent commission. Give them (only) 40 seats this time,” he said.

Suggesting that the BJP allegedly used money “looted” from people through corruption to buy MLAs, Gandhi urged people to ensure that Congress won at least 150 MLAs, because they (BJP) will make attempts to buy MLAs.

“So it is necessary that Congress wins the election with full majority in Karnataka. The vote you cast should be against corruption and a ’40 per cent commission government’,” he said.

Also read: ‘Humiliated’ by BJP, Jagadish Shettar joins Congress

Bommai hits back

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Monday hit back at Rahul Gandhi on “40 percent Commission sarkar” jibe at his government, saying the Congress leader is yet to respond to his “corruption charge sheet”.

Bommai also dismissed Gandhi’s claim that his party would be voted to power in Karnataka.

“Does he know any ground reality here (Karnataka),” he asked.

The chief minister said he had sent a “charge sheet” to Gandhi during his ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ on the “scams” during the (previous) Congress government but he is yet to get a reply.

“The 40 percent commission charge sheet is on him (Rahul Gandhi).”

(With PTI inputs)