The BJP today accused the Congress of choosing "minority vote bank politics" over the welfare of the Other Backward Classes and said it will launch a campaign against the opposition party for "betraying" the OBC community by stalling a bill to grant them Constitutional status, in the Rajya Sabha. The Congress had yesterday stalled in the Upper House a bill to accord Constitutional status to the OBC Commission, by pushing for amendments, including seeking quota for a member from a minority community and a woman.
The saffron party latched onto the Congress' demand for reservation for a member from the minorities, with BJP's key OBC leaders Bhupender Yadav, Hukmdev Narayan Yadav and Ganesh Singh launching a sharp attack on the opposition party at a press conference.
"There is a separate minority commission to address their concerns. The OBC Commission is meant only to address the concerns of people from this class. It is religion-neutral and by raising the issue of minority (representation) in it, the Congress has shown that it has preferred minority politics over the welfare of 15,000 castes and communities in the OBC category," they said in a joint statement.
"The Congress is only interested in minority vote bank politics," they said, adding that several Muslim communities were also a part of the OBCs. Granting Constitutional status to the commission has long been a demand of OBC MPs belonging to different parties, they
said, accusing the Congress of "cheating" the OBCs for 70 years and "betraying" their interests again. This is an "anti-OBC" party, they added.
While previous prime ministers did not act on their demands, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had acted promptly, they said.
Such a status to the commission on the line of the SC and ST commissions will accord it vast executive and judicial powers to deal with the demands of the OBC castes.
BJP general secretary Bhupender Yadav, however, played down the absence of several party members from the Rajya Sabha when the bill was put to vote and kept the attack on the Congress.
Asked about the fate of the bill, he said the government will continue to back it and added that his party would have more strength in the Rajya Sabha in April next year.
He cited measures like demonetisation, Mudra scheme, Jan Dhan accounts and Aadhaar bill to claim that the Modi government was working to benefit the OBCs but the Congress was doing all it can to stall his efforts.
Hukumdev Narayan Yadav accused the Congress of carrying "animus" against the OBCs as they had united in the "heartland states" to defeat its governments in the past.
"We will go to the 15,000 OBC castes and communities and awaken them against the Congress. It will be rooted out," Bhupender Yadav said.