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Reactions to Rahul Gandhi’s OBC remarks in press conference, caste census stand

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday asked for a show of hands from journalists at a press conference to know how many of them were Dalits and OBCs to make a point that people from weaker sections were not getting their share in the country’s assets and institutions. Addressing the press conference after a meeting […]

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday asked for a show of hands from journalists at a press conference to know how many of them were Dalits and OBCs to make a point that people from weaker sections were not getting their share in the country’s assets and institutions. Addressing the press conference after a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), Mr 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. In response to a question, Mr Gandhi said the Congress is asking what is the share of Dalits, tribals and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in the country’s assets and institutions. “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. “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. He also slammed the BJP’s criticism of the Congress over its caste census demand and said, “We are asking how many poor people are there in the country. So this (BJP criticism) is just about distraction.” Flanked by the party’s chief ministers in four states, Mr Gandhi also said the decision of the CWC to support a caste census is a “very progressive” and “powerful” step for the emancipation of poor people. Talking about the idea of caste census, the former Congress chief said this ‘X-ray’ is needed for a new paradigm and development in the country. In a survey regarding the potential impact of Rahul Gandhi’s call for a caste census in elections, 41.17% of respondents believe that Congress will benefit from this move, while 51.96% think otherwise, and 6.87% remain uncertain. Regarding Congress’ use of the caste issue to target BJP’s Hindu vote bank, 51.47% of respondents believe it has gained traction, while 36.76% disagree, and 11.77% are unsure. Opinions about the caste census vary: 26.96% of respondents feel it is necessary, 9.80% are concerned it will lead to more reservation disputes, 30.39% view it as a mere political stunt, 24.50% believe it will aid in development plans, and 8.35% couldn’t express a definitive opinion. When it comes to factors influencing voting decisions, a significant majority (69.60%) prioritize the candidate, followed by the party (19.60%), with caste (1.47%) and religion (2.45%) having less impact. Approximately 6.88% are undecided in this regard. Regarding which party would benefit the most from a caste census, 31.50% think BJP would, 30.88% believe Congress would, 17.15% think regional parties would gain, and 20.47% are uncertain. This data suggests that opinions are divided on the potential benefits of a caste census and its impact on electoral dynamics. While some see it as a positive move for Congress and a means to address development issues, others perceive it as a political tactic with potential drawbacks like increased reservation disputes. The candidate and party affiliation remain the dominant factors in voters’ decision-making processes, with caste and religion playing a relatively minor role. The uncertainty surrounding the potential impact of a caste census on party benefits indicates the complexity of this issue in Indian politics.

WHAT SURVEY RESPONDENTS SAY
Will Congress benefit from Rahul Gandhi’s caste census move in elections?
Yes: 41.17%
No: 51.96%
Can’t say: 6.87%
Has Congress’ use of caste issue to attack BJP’s Hindu vote bank picked up?
Yes: 51.47%
No: 36.76%
Can’t say: 11.77%
What is your opinion about the caste census?
Caste census is necessary: 26.96%
Reservation disputes will increase: 9.80%
Mere political stunt: 30.39%
Help in development plans: 24.50%
Can’t say: 8.35%
What do you look at before making a decision while voting in elections?
Caste: 1.47%
Religion: 2.45%
Party: 19.60%
Candidate: 69.60%
Can’t say: 6.88%
Which party will benefit the most if a caste census is conducted?
BJP: 31.50%
Congress: 30.88%
Regional parties: 17.15%
Can’t say: 20.47%

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