Throwing a new poll challenge to Telangana Chief Minister and Bharat Rashtra Samithi chief K Chandrashekar Rao, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi questioned his silence on the issue of caste census and said his party will get the survey done if it comes to power in the state.
“We have already initiated caste census surveys in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, and Karnataka and will do the same in Telangana as soon as we come to power. The caste census will reveal how much KCR’s family has looted Telangana,” Mr Gandhi said while addressing a roadshow in Telangana’s Bhupalpally.
The Congress leader alleged that the BRS and the Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM are collaborating with the BJP and launching a joint attack on the Congress.
“When Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi and Chief Minister KCR deliver speeches, the people of Telangana should question them about when they intend to conduct the caste census survey,” he said.
The BJP, he alleged, is filing cases against Opposition parties to silence them, but there are no cases against KCR. “The absence of CBI and ED cases against Chief Minister KCR raises questions.”
Launching a dynasty attack on the BRS, he said people of Telangana, which got statehood in 2014, had dreamed of a state where the common man would govern. “But in the last ten years, your Chief Minister, KCR, has distanced himself from the people, and only his family is ruling the state. He has shattered your dream,” he said.
Caste census, Mr Gandhi said, is the most pressing issue in the country. “It is like an x-ray that reveals the percentage of backward classes, SC, ST, and minorities, enabling equitable budget allocation.”
Saying that it was a Congress-led government that fulfilled the statehood promise to Telangana, he said, “My relationship with the people of Telangana is one of love and affection. While KCR and Modi come to Telangana for a political relationship with you, my connection with you is based on love and affection.”
Telangana, he claimed, has the highest corruption in India and this adversely affects the youth and women of Telangana.
Waving to the people gathered on terraces and the roadside during the Congress march, he said, “Looking at your enthusiasm, it seems likely that KCR is going to lose this election.”
The caste census issue has emerged as a subject of heated exchanges between the BRS and the Congress in the run-up to the polls.
Earlier, KCR’s daughter and Legislative Council member K Kavitha had questioned why the Congress did not get a caste survey done in the six decades it governed the country. “This Congress leader started talking about the census of the Backward Classes population. When they were in power for 60 years, they did not do it. Now he says he will do something,” she said at Nizamabad last week, news agency PTI has reported.
Incidentally, the KCR government had got a caste survey done in the state in 2014, soon after it came to power. While results of the Samagra Kutumba Survey were not made public owing to litigations challenging it, the state government says it used the data for policy changes.
The BRS, Ms Kavitha said, had conducted the survey and the results enabled it to effectively provide welfare schemes to all communities. She said Mr Gandhi just makes statements before elections unlike KCR who has prioritised the welfare of backward classes.