At every election rally, Congress leaders from party chief Mallikarjung Kharge to Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have been promising a state-wide caste survey if they come to power.
The sudden fondness for caste survey is emerging as a key issue in both state and general elections expected in the next few months.
Bihar took the lead in publishing its caste survey data. Rahul Gandhi made it an election issue and highlighted it as a major talking point in the Karnataka election. This drew a reaction from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which the Congress says strengthened the party’s resolve to work for a caste survey.
Other parties in the newly formed Opposition alliance INDIA have also demanded caste survey.
The Congress Working Committee has never formally endorsed caste survey, though the party’s stand has evolved over the years.
Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in the height of the Mandal agitation during a no-confidence debate in parliament had opposed caste-based reservations. But with the implementation of the Mandal Commission report and various Supreme Court judgments, the party has taken a position and has been endorsing publicly the demand for caste-based reservations and a census with caste enumeration.
Recently, Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi posted on X the ramifications of a caste survey, leading to a demand for rights and the possible equivalence to majoritarian rights. This X post was later deleted and attributed to being sent by mistake of a staffer.
The Congress, however, wants to send a message of being united and unequivocally for a caste survey, which can be used as a strong tool to mobilise not only in the Hindi heartland but also in the southern states where Other Backward Classes (OBC) politics is widely prevalent.
The party will discuss the preparations for both state and general elections, the status of alliances and the alleged harassment of Opposition parties by law enforcement agencies, which the Congress says are acting at the behest of the centre.