New Delhi: Former Congress President and MP., Shri Rahul Gandhi, AICC General Secretary (Org.) Shri K.C. Venugopal, General Secretary (Communications) Shri Jairam Ramesh, Rajasthan’s Chief Minister Shri Ashok Gehlot, Karnatka’s Chief Minister Shri Siddaramaiah, Chhattishgarh’s Chief Minister Shri Bhupesh Baghel, and Himachal Pradesh’s Chief Minister Shri Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, addressed the media at AICC Hdqrs. on October 09, 2023.
Addressing the Media, Shri Jairam Ramesh said- Today Rahul ji is among us, along with him the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Chief Minister of Karnataka and Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh are also present. Today, the Congress Working Committee met for 4 hours, a resolution was also passed unanimously. Even you will get access to that resolution shortly. Now Rahul ji will inform you about the discussions and deliberations that took place in this Working Committee meeting.
Shri Rahul Gandhi said-Namaskar! Welcome all of you here. As Jairam Ramesh ji said, ‘Caste Census’ was discussed and debated for 4 hours and a historic decision has been taken unanimously by the Congress Working Committee. Meaning, there was no person in the room who did not give his full support to the concept of ‘Caste Census’. So, it is a matter of great pleasure. I think, it is a very-very progressive step, a very powerful step for the emancipation of the poor people in our country.
We have Chief Ministers sitting here. They believe that it’s an important step for them to take, so that is why our states are also considering this and actioning this step. They have decided to carry forward ‘Caste Census’ in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Himachal.
On a question that Congress Party is supporting the ‘Caste Census’, but, whether INDIA alliance parties also support you in this or you will seek support from them, Shri Rahul Gandhi said- Well! The Congress President today chaired the meeting of the highest body of the Congress Party, and the entire Congress Party has decided that it is going to, wholeheartedly, not just support the idea of the ‘Caste Census’, but force the BJP to carry out the ‘Caste Census’ or get out of the way, so, we can carry out the ‘Caste Census’.
Now, most of the parties in the INDIA alliance are unanimous that the ‘Caste Census’ should be implemented. There might be a few, who might have a slightly different position and that’s fine, we are quite flexible. We are not a fascist system, we are quite flexible, if somebody has a slightly different opinion. There is no problem, they can have that opinion, but I am confident that the vast majority of the INDIA alliance is going to support and push the idea of the ‘Caste Census’.
On another question, election bugle has been sounded in 5 states from today, so should it be believed that these 5 states will be the litmus test for Congress to put pressure on Bharatiya Janata Party to conduct ‘Caste Census’? Shri Gandhi said, look, these words of yours i.e. litmus test, they work in chemistry, they do not work in politics. Our point is simple, we all have decided that ‘Caste Census’ is necessary for the future of India. After the ‘Caste Census’, a new paradigm of development will open and we have decided that we will do this work. So, I am telling you today that the Congress Party will leave only after completing this work and remember, when we make a promise, we do not break that promise.
On another question whether ‘Caste Census’ is now being seen as a matter opposed to the ‘Politics of Religion’, Shri Gandhi said that see, this is not a matter of caste or religion, it is a matter of poverty. This work is being done for the OBCs of India, Dalits of India, tribals of India and poor people of India. What is happening today, two INDIAs are being created - one for Adani ji and the other for everyone else. ‘Caste Census’ will clearly show how many people are there in India, who are there and we will not stop there, after that there will be economic survey. Then, we will also come to know how many people are there, in whose hands is the money, where is the money, whose assets are there. And I say, maybe it is my fault too... Whatever we did not do earlier, we will complete now. Because this X-ray is much needed. If we want a new paradigm of development, where everyone gets justice, we will have to conduct ‘Caste Census’.
On another question that why didn’t the Karnataka’s Chief Minister go ahead with the release of ‘Caste Census’ data, Shri Rahul Gandhi said- We are in discussion. We are very clear what our direction is, those actions will be taken. I’ll also let Siddaramaiah Ji directly answer your question.
Shri Siddaramaiah said- Our previous government in Karnataka, i.e. 2013 to 2018, in 2014 and 2015, we have entrusted this ‘Caste Census’ and socio economic survey of all communities to permanent backward class commission headed by then Chairman of the commission. By the time, our term is over, report was not ready. Then, coalition government was there in Karnataka after 2018. The ‘Caste Census’ report was ready, but the coalition government Chief Minister Mr. H.D. Kumaraswamy did not receive that report. Now, the report is lying with the permanent backward class commission.
I request, now to the present Chairman Mr. Jayaprakash Hegde to submit the report to the government. If he submits the report, we will definitely issue the report, … ‘Caste Census’ and socio-economic survey of all communities particularly other backward communities.
On another question about the statement of Prime Minister regarding the ‘Caste Census’ in southern India, Shri Rahul Gandhi said- See! The Prime Minister is making unconnected statements. What the ‘Caste Census’ has to do with representation of the south is very difficult to understand now. The problem is that the Prime Minister is incapable of doing the ‘Caste Census’. I would like to point-out something quite interesting.
We have 4 Chief Ministers. 3 out of 4 are from OBC category. BJP has 10 Chief Ministers. Only 1 is from OBC category and he too will no longer be the Chief Minister in a few days. So, there is a lot of talk about OBCs, but Narendra Modi ji has to tell what have you done for OBCs? I gave the example in Parliament that out of 90 officers, 3 officers are from OBC category. Narendra Modi ji did not say anything about it, he did not even say that yes this is wrong, he did not say a single word. Meaning, it is acceptable for them that those who constitute approximately 50 percent of the population of India should not have any right in running the government! This is the truth. It is the reality!
The Prime Minister should directly say that we will release the data of ‘Caste Census’. The Prime Minister should directly say that the next census will be on caste basis. He cannot say that because the Prime Minister does not really work for the OBC category. The work of the Prime Minister is to distract the OBC class, to divert the attention of the OBC class. So, the truth is that the entire system has been created to distract the OBC class, Dalit class, tribal class from how much participation they are getting by RSS and Narendra Modi ji and Narendra Modi ji is their main instrument, i.e., they are the central tool. Their only motto is that there should be no participation of OBCs and attention should be diverted.
On another question, the Prime Minister alleges that Congress is trying to create divisions within the Hindu community by bringing ‘Caste Census’ and in Rajasthan he said that this is the aim of Congress’ advocacy and Rahul Gandhi’s advocacy, what would you say? Shri Gandhi said that our aim is that there should be an X-ray. When someone gets hurt, the first thing to do in the hospital is to get an X-ray done, let’s find out what is the truth. We feel that the participation that OBCs, Dalits and tribals should have in India, they are not getting it. There is a suspicion. Now, all we are doing is that we want to get an X-ray done to see whether there is truth in it or not. Why is Narendra Modi afraid of getting the X-ray done? It is not about dividing people. It is about giving them their due rights. Now, I am not able to understand why the Prime Minister of India is not getting X-ray done, why is he afraid of getting X-ray done and wherever he is going, you notice him talking about something to distract. Sometimes, he is talking about delimitation, sometimes he is talking about something else, sometimes he is talking about South India, but not even in a single speech did Narendra Modi ji say that see what Rahul Gandhi has said that there are 90 officers who run India. Out of them, only 3 people are from OBC category. This is the truth. This truth has been accepted by BJP and they have control over only 5% of the budget. The Prime Minister is not able to say so in his speech, because his goal is something else. Their goal is to create distraction and you will see many more ways to create distraction, one after another, in the coming time.
On another question, the way the Prime Minister is saying that this will be very harmful for the Congress politically, do you think this is a loss-making deal? Shri Rahul Gandhi said that this is not our political decision. It is a decision of justice. This is a decision of stake. There is no political calculation in this. We are talking about the share of the mass of India - which is 50, 60, 70, 80 percent of the population of India and we have decided that we will definitely give that share. You just see - just as I had spoken about Covid, I had spoken about China, now I am saying that there will be a ‘Caste Census’ and the poor of India will get their due share and that work will be done by Congress.
On another question - you have also talked about economic survey after ‘Caste Census’. Will it be in Congress state, secondly you had said in Parliament that you have the data of ‘Caste Census’, will you announce it? Shri Rahul Gandhi said that see, we do not have the data of ‘Caste Census’, because the data of ‘Caste Census’ is with the Government of India. So, I have never said this (we have the data of ‘Caste Census’). I have said that the Government of India has the data of ‘Caste Census’, the Government of India should release that data and if the Government of India will not release that data, then when our government comes, on the first day, we will release that data. Look the economic survey that you have talked about, what is the question, the question is this, the first question - which will get cleared through ‘Caste Census’. Whose population is there in this country, how much of OBC, how much of Dalits, how much of tribals, how much is it of the rest of the people, the first question. Second question - The wealth of the country, the assets of the country, are they in the hands of these people too or not? Let me ask you in this room, what is the share of OBCs in the country’s assets, how much is the share of Dalits, how much is the share of tribals, how many are tribals in the institutions of the country, how many are OBCs, how many are Dalits? How many Dalits are there in this room? Look, see this fun - how many OBCs are there in this room, raise your hands, see the fun. No, you are a cameraman brother, I am not talking about you. I am talking about them (reporters). So, this is the question. We are asking the question how many OBCs, how many Dalits and how many tribals are there in the institutions of India. We are asking about Institutions, asking about Money, asking about Assets and asking about Population.
On another question, the Prime Minister is repeatedly saying that you are in collusion with foreign forces, you want to break the country, what would you say? Shri Rahul Gandhi said, what is the connection with this? We are saying what is the share of the poor people of this country. How many are there, we are asking this question. What is the connection? This is the same thing of distracting that brother look there, look here, look there again. Like I just asked you how many OBCs are there in this room, everyone was looking here and there. I didn’t see even a single hand. There is one, yes brother, this is the main one, this is the main one here. Here, there is neither a tribal, nor a Dalit, nor an OBC, so the question arises. Now I am not saying this, it is important to ask questions. I’m just asking questions. After that, we have not yet discussed what will be done with the data, but we are asking a historical question. How much is the OBC class getting, how much is the Dalit class getting, how much is the tribal class getting, how much are the rest of the people getting - this is a historical question and this will be the future economic model of India. There will be a political model, it will be built on this basis.
In response to another question asked about the role of Congress in the upcoming assembly elections of five states, Shri Rahul Gandhi said that I told you that BJP has 10 states. On one side is their OBC Chief Minister, on the other side - their government will lose in Madhya Pradesh. Our government in Rajasthan is coming again. It is coming again in Chhattisgarh. Theirs is going to lose in Telangana, ours is coming. Seriously speaking, the atmosphere is very positive and I can say about our four states that the health care structure that Gehlot ji has created is probably a historic health care system in the world. The government of Rajasthan has created it. And the work that the Rajasthan government has done for the poor has been historic.
The five guarantees and social protection schemes we have in Karnataka are unmatched. You go to any state, you ask, you will not find such a social protection structure anywhere else. What our Chief Minister did in Chhattisgarh in favour of farmers, the price they get for paddy, is the highest in India. The connectivity he has created, the manufacturing units he has set up in our small districts, this is historic work and if you want to understand about Sukhu ji, then when Himachal was hit (natural disaster), his response was - The response on the ground, the response among the people. Perhaps I have not seen such a response before. So, our four governments are doing great job. I think we will do very well in these elections. Even in Mizoram, I am going to Mizoram now, there is a very positive atmosphere and in general there is anger among the people. There are one or two reasons - unemployment, inflation and increasing inequality that people like Adani ji are becoming rich, the entire assets of the country are falling into their hands and farmers and laborers are becoming poor. This is quite evident.
So that’s why, we are preparing. ‘Caste Census’ is our foundation. But what they did for health care in Rajasthan, we are thinking of doing it at the national level. Whatever they are doing for the farmers, the structuring of their social security, we are planning to implement this at the national level. Our thinking is that the vision of hatred, violence and fear that Narendra Modi ji and BJP have given, contrary to that, we should give the country a vision of love, respect and participation and I feel that the mood of the country has completely changed and the BJP people have not understood this yet. But in a few days, they will gradually understand that what they have done to the country, the way they have spread hatred, the way they have attacked the institutions, the way they have intimidated, threatened, spread hatred - this country has not liked that. Thank you all so very much.