Rahul Gandhi, a prominent figure from the Indian National Congress, pledged that the Indian National Development Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), if elected, will carry out a caste census to accurately determine the representation of Other Backward Classes (OBC), Scheduled Castes (SC), and Scheduled Tribes (ST) in the nation. This commitment follows Gandhi’s earlier parliamentary appeal for the census and the inclusion of OBCs in the women’s quota bill, just two days prior.
Gandhi emphasised the need for immediate implementation of the bill, highlighting that only three out of the 90 secretaries of the Indian government are OBCs. He dismissed the necessity to wait for a census and delimitation, stating, “The caste census will be carried out as soon as our government is in power. The country will then learn the actual number of OBCs, SCs, STs. Whilst this cannot be achieved overnight, our intention is clear.”
Gandhi expressed regret that the Congress did not include the OBC quota in the 2008 women’s reservation bill, which passed in the Rajya Sabha but was ultimately shelved due to opposition from allied parties. He accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of diverting attention from two crucial issues: allegations of stock manipulation against the Adani Group and the caste census. He further claimed, “They do not wish to give real power to OBCs.”
In a potent critique of the BJP’s alleged concentration of power in the hands of the Adani Group, Gandhi expressed shock at the underrepresentation of OBCs among the most influential secretaries. He questioned, “Do OBCs constitute merely 5% of India? Is that the level of participation we desire from OBCs?” He asserted that the only method to ascertain the number of OBCs is through a caste census.
Gandhi, accusing the BJP of concentrating power within a select few, stated, “A large mass of the Indian population possesses no power.” He termed the women’s reservation a central and critical step, but expressed skepticism about its immediate implementation. He stated, “It will be implemented a decade from now. The problem with the bill is its implementation. A 10-year delay…means nothing.”