Akhilesh Yadav’s Caste Census Swipe At Rahul Gandhi Widens INDIA Rift

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Cracks are now more prominent in the Opposition’s INDIA alliance with Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav questioning why the previous Congress-led governments did not conduct caste census when they were in power.

Mr Yadav’s comment highlights the differences between the two parties that are part of the mega Opposition front seeking to put up a united fight against the BJP in next year’s national elections.

The previous governments did not act on this due to their faulty policies, he told ANI in Satna in election-bound Madhya Pradesh and taunted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi over his “X-ray” remark over the caste census demand.

At a rally yesterday, Mr Gandhi reiterated his call for caste census and termed the exercise an “X-ray” that would give details of various communities in the country. Asked about this, Mr Yadav said the Congress’s demand for a caste census is a “miracle”.

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

“The biggest miracle is the Congress is also talking about caste census. Those who are talking about X-rays are the same people who stopped the caste census after Independence,” he quipped.

Mr Yadav slammed the Congress for not conducting caste census after India attained independence. “When Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav), Sharad Yadav, Lalu Prasad Yadav, and parties from South India raised the demand in Lok Sabha, the Congress refused to do it,” he said.

“Why do they want to conduct caste census today? Because they know that their traditional vote bank is not with them. But the backward classes, Dalit, and adivasis know that they had betrayed them after Independence,” he added.

Mr Yadav has been training his guns at the Congress lately and has also claimed that the grand old party does not want to ally with his outfit after their relations soured over seat-sharing for the November 17 Madhya Pradesh elections.

Last week, he said the Congress did not implement the Mandal Commission recommendations and had opposed the caste census. In another instance, he told a rally in Madhya Pradesh that neither Congress nor BJP have done anything for the poor and farmers when they were in power in the state.

A poster war had also erupted between the two parties after a poster claiming Mr Yadav as the country’s “future prime minister” was put up outside a Samajwadi Party office. Soon after, a similar poster describing Mr Gandhi as the ‘2024 prime minister’ surfaced outside a Congress office in Lucknow.

Politics Over Caste Census

Caste census has become a major political issue with the Opposition getting more vocal over it ahead of the general elections next year.

Even the BJP, which earlier opposed a national caste census, has now hinted at softening its stand. Union Home Minister Amit Shah recently said BJP never opposed the idea of a caste census, but would take a decision after extensive consultations.

The Bihar government last week tabled the full report of its contentious state-wide caste survey.

Incidentally, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, another key contender in the INDIA bloc, had blocked a call for caste census by her Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar at a meeting of Opposition parties in Mumbai earlier this year.

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