Sunday, April 14, 2024

Rahul Gandhi contradicts his father when it comes to caste census: Parliamentary records


For quite some time now Rahul Gandhi has been advocating for a caste census and floated the tagline ‘jitni abaadi, utna haq’, however, his late father and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in the 1990s opposed a caste census and had called on for a ‘casteless society’ in the parliament and had even challenged then-Prime Minister VP Singh and accused him of leading the country into a caste war because of the Mandal Commission.

Congress under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi

On the other hand, there is a stark contrast with how the topic of the caste census is dealt with by Congress under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi which feels like the time when the Mandal politics was huge in order to counter Narendra Modi. Meanwhile, Rajiv Gandhi and Indira Gandhi had taken an opposite stand in the 80s and 90s. “If you think back, it was in 1980 that the Congress under the leadership of Indira Gandhi, had raised the slogan ‘Na jaat par, na patt par’ (not on caste or creed),” Rajiv Gandhi said in a speech in the Lok Sabha on September 6, 1990. The VP Singh government had accused Congress PMs of sitting on the report.

During the speech in the parliament when the then-Leader of Opposition Rajiv Gandhi had sharp exchanges with VP Singh as he was trying to go ahead with the Mandal Commission report. During the speech, Rajiv Gandhi said, “It is extremely sad that the thinking in this government revolves around caste…VP Singh is causing rift in our society,” Rajiv Gandhi said. He said the “goal of the country must be a casteless society” and one you must avoid taking any step which takes the country towards a caste-ridden society. “Nobody in this House will say that the removal of casteism is not part of that national goal,” he said.

Surprisingly, Narendra Modi has had a much more similar thought process with Rajiv Gandhi on this matter than Rahul Gandhi. PM Modi when talking about the caste census has warned that implementing a caste census will further divide the country and its people. This is very similar to the time Rajiv Gandhi had said, “the manner in which you have implemented the Mandal Commission, to me, it is breaking up my country. Even at this late hour, there is time to pull the country back from this caste division” and had accused the VP Singh government of creating a vested interest in casteism and had said that the country would pay a very heavy price for this.

During his time as the Leader of Opposition, Rajiv Gandhi had asked the government on why the government was accepting caste as a sole identifier. He had then said to remove backwardness and poverty. He also believed that one has to look at the root of the problem and give equal opportunity to everyone. “We, the Congress, are in favour of a comprehensive action plan, an affirmative action plan for the backward communities. We need that. The problem cannot be solved by playing politics or by limited politically motivated manipulations,” Rajiv Gandhi said. He said the reality is that caste counts for a tremendous amount in this country. “But what is our goal? Is our goal a casteless society?” Rajiv Gandhi said in the Lok Sabha.

In the speech, he had also said that a casteless society is the one that is needed for India to grow and develop and should be its number one goal. “The PM does not have the guts to stand up and say whether he believes in a casteless society or does not believe in casteless society. It is very sad, sir,” Rajiv Gandhi said. He further said not to let one man’s obstinacy lead India to a caste war.

“Socially and socially and educationally backward classes need all the help they can get including reservation and the Congress will support you in that. We would like that to be targeted to the poorest and the weakest in the socially and educationally backward classes this the Congress Party has outlined in the Working Committee’s Resolution on August 30 this year,” Rajiv Gandhi said in the conclusion of his speech.

Please, also have a look into : Rahul Gandhi turns ‘coolie’ at the Anand Vihar ISBT

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