As Congress Counts on Caste Census to Add Votes in 2024, Will Rahul Gandhi’s New Obsession Deliver? – News18

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Rahul Gandhi’s earlier campaigns like Rafale, where he built the narrative of ‘Chowkidar chor hai’ or ‘the PM is corrupt’, just did not work. (File pic: PTI)

The Congress hopes to show how the OBC, SC, and ST matter more and that the BJP has not done much for them

Rahul Gandhi has a new obsession. It’s the OBC vote and the caste census. And with Bihar leading the way after releasing the results of its caste survey, Rahul Gandhi is sure that this obsession of his will click in 2024. As per the survey, the OBC+SC+ST bloc constitutes 84% of the population. Rahul Gandhi feels that if similar exercises in other states throw up similar statistics, it can be a win-win for his side.

Talking about obsessions, Rahul Gandhi’s earlier ones like Rafale, where he built the narrative of “Chowkidar chor hai” or “the PM is corrupt”, just did not work. Many Congress leaders in private disagreed with that campaign.

But this time, Congress colleagues are convinced that Rahul Gandhi’s current obsession may actually work.

The BJP has scored with the combination of upper-caste votes and lower OBCs. In fact, the Other Backward Classes have never been a consolidated vote. The BJP is aware of this, which is why it was able to woo and even win over the OBC votes.

It’s not that the Congress did not try to woo the upper-caste votes. The projection of Sheila Dikshit as a chief ministerial face for the Uttar Pradesh polls in 2016 (and later abandoning her as Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party and the Congress tied up). It was hoping to cash in on her Brahmin credentials. The strategy hasn’t worked for the Congress.

Hence, it is now falling back on the combination of the Other Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes, and Scheduled Tribes. The fact that the Congress has three OBC chief ministers in Ashok Gehlot, Bhupesh Baghel, and Siddaramaiah, and a Dalit as its president in Mallikarjun Kharge has given Rahul Gandhi the hope that in 2024, what has clicked for the BJP till now, may work for his party.

So, sources say the party plans to make the demand for a nationwide caste census its main manifesto slogan. It plans to project the BJP as a party of the privileged class.

Not just this. The opposition INDIA front also plans to make the caste census its focal point. This suits some of the members, like the Janata Dal (United), Rashtriya Janata Dal, and of course the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. For the DMK, Udhayanidhi Stalin’s comments on Sanatan Dharma are in sync with the anti-Brahmanical stance and politics of the party.

Not that the BJP will cede space to the Congress. It has already released statistics to show how Congress-ruled states and during the UPA’s tenure, the OBCs did not have an easy time.

With the caste census, the Congress hopes to show how the OBC, SC, and ST matter more and that the BJP has not done much for them. The question is, will this new obsession of Rahul Gandhi work?

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