The BJP on Friday accused the ruling Congress of manufacturing a controversy over the OBC caste status of Narendra Modi for alleged vested interests to divert electoral discourse from real issues.
“The fact that Narendra Modi belongs to the OBC community is a major cause of worry to the Congress. Though Modi has never made caste as his identity and his appeal cuts across castes and communities, the Congress worry is apparent. The ruling dynasty of the Congress cannot digest defeat at the hands of a commoner,” senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said in a statement posted on his website.
The BJP, in this context, sought to suggest that the Congress’s attempt to create a controversy over this issue was a part of a ploy to divert popular attention from real issues. “It shows the tendency of the Congress leaders to indulge in low-level politics. The issue of Narendra Modi’s caste raised by Congress is not based on facts... Such low-level politics is being played in despair, despondency and aggression to divert the attention of people from the core issues,” BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi said at the party headquarters.
BJP leaders dismissed Congress’ charges and said that “Modh Ganchi” caste to which Modi belongs was included into Gujarat’s state list of OBCs during Congress regime in the state in 1994 and was included in central OBC list in 2000 during Vajpayee regime when Modi was out of power.
“In any case, the ‘Modh Ghanchi’ was added as an OBC in Gujarat on 25th July 1994 by the Congress government headed by Chhabildas Mehta and in the Mandal Commission list by the Government of India on 4th April 2000. Both these events took place much before Narendra Modi became the CM of Gujarat,” Jaitley said. The Congress, however, stuck to its guns saying that the Gujarat government’s decision was notified during the Modi’s regime as the CM.
“Whatever Congress spokesman Shaktisinh Gohil said is absolutely correct because the notification was issued by the Gujarat government on Jan 1, 2002 when Modi was the CM,” Congress leader Ajay Maken said.
With the Congress sticking to its guns, the BJP sought to caution the ruling party to avoid wading into these issues, pointing that it could be embarrassing for the grand old party if similar identity issues are raised about their top leaders.