New Delhi: The Opposition leaders on Sunday hit back at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for raking up his caste during an election rally in Uttar Pradesh.
Addressing a public meeting in Kannauj on Saturday, the Prime Minister had drawn focus on his backward caste identity. “Behenji (Mayawati) is distributing my caste certificate. And now that she has started it, I must tell you that I come from the most backward caste in Gujarat.
“I was not aware of my caste till Behenji, Akhilesh Yadav and the Congress began mentioning it. I am grateful to them, though I am not into caste politics. I ask them not to drag me into caste politics,” Modi had said.
At a press conference in Lucknow on Saturday, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati had said: “He (Modi) was an upper caste when he was Gujarat Chief Minister. Later he got his caste included in the OBC (other backward class) category.”
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi on Sunday said that she did not have any knowledge about the Prime Minister’s caste, and that the opposition never focused on it as an issue.
“I am still not aware of the caste that Modi belongs to. And the opposition and the Congress have never raised the issue of his caste,” she told the media in Busiyave village in Amethi.
Gandhi also emphasised that the Congress was focusing only on development challenges and raising issues such as health services, employment, education, women’s safety and farm distress.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram tweeted: “Mr Narendra Modi is the first person who became PM later who campaigned wearing his caste on his sleeve (2014): ‘I am an OBC.’ Now, he says he has no caste!”
Chidambaram further said: “In 2014 and thereafter, he said repeatedly that he is proud that the people elected a ‘chaiwala’ as PM. Now he says, he never mentioned his origins as a chaiwala! What does the PM take us for? A bunch of idiots who have large memory losses?”
The leader of Opposition in Bihar and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav also jumped on the bandwagon.
“I had on April 20 (2019) said that PM, after portraying himself as fake OBC, will call himself a person belonging to an extremely backward caste. He did so yesterday (in a rally in Kannauj),” he tweeted.