Caste census row: How many Dalits, OBCs here?: Rahul to reporters at press meettext_fields
New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday asked journalists at a press conference to raise their hands if they were Dalits, tribals or from the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) to assert his point that the weaker sections were not getting their fair share in the country's assets and institutions.
"How many Dalits are there in this room… how many OBCs are there in the room, raise your hands...," Gandhi asked after the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting here.
A video of the same was shared on X by Congress, where the party claimed that not a single person raised their hand in response to Gandhi's question.
In the video, Gandhi is seen asking how many journalists in the room were Dalits, OBCs and tribals. "Look at this," the Congress leader said when not a single person raised their hands. "I will ask you how many Dalits are there in this room, look at this, how many OBCs are there in the room, raise their hands and see...there's a cameraman, I am not talking about you, I am talking about you (gesturing towards journalists)," the former Congress chief said.
The Congress said that this was the reason behind their decision to conduct a caste census in states under their rule.
Addressing the press conference, Gandhi said the party's working committee has taken a "historic decision" unanimously to support the idea of a nationwide caste census, asserting that it is a "powerful step" for the emancipation of the poor.
"This is the question, how many Dalits, tribals and OBCs are there in institutions, what is their wealth, share in assets and their population," he said.
"It is necessary to ask a question. I am just asking a question; what will be done with the data has not yet been discussed. But we are asking a historical question, how much share is the OBC class getting, how much is the Dalit class getting, how much are the Adivasis getting, and how much are the remaining people getting? This is a historical question, as the new economic model and political model will be based on it," he said.
Earlier in the day, Gandhi announced the grand old party's decision to do caste census in Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh - states where Congress is in power.
Calling the decision "historic", he said that it was not influenced by the considerations of religion or caste but to benefit the economically disadvantaged people in the country.
Gandhi also said that PM Modi's aim was to distract the public.
"PM's aim is to distract... In the coming times, he will keep bringing up many distractions. This (caste census) is not a political decision but a decision based on justice. There are no political calculations," he said.
Casts census has been in the headlines lately due to the recent release of the Bihar government's controversial caste-based survey months ahead of the 2023 Lok Sabha polls.
The census revealed that the OBCs consist of 63 per cent of the state's population. It further showed that Scheduled Castes (SCs) account for over 19 per cent of Bihar's 13-crore population, while Scheduled Tribes (STs) make up 1.68 per cent. The upper castes, or 'savarnas', form 15.52 per cent of state's population.
While announcing Congress's move to act on caste census, Gandhi said that the decision was made unanimously by all Chief Ministers of the four states under the party's rule.
With inputs from agencies