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Dear Congress, Please Stop Self-Goaling

Author: Ravi Shankar Prasad
Publication: NDTV
Date: May 9, 2014
URL: http://www.ndtv.com/article/opinion/dear-congress-please-stop-self-goaling-521203?pfrom=home-otherstories

(Ravi Shankar Prasad is the BJP's Deputy Leader in the Rajya Sabha  and a former Union Minister.)
The Congress Party has become so desperate in view of its imminent defeat that it has scored a series of self-goals. After Snoopgate, the "toffee and the balloon models" and the "neech rajniti"  fiasco,  the latest instance of its desperation is  doubting the caste credentials of Narendra Modi, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate.

It has reached a stage where it has started resorting to leveling allegations without any evidence or basis. Mr Modi's caste, Modh Ghanchi, was declared a backward caste in 1994 by the then Congress government in Gujarat, which was headed by Chhabildas Mehta. This government included Mr Shaktisinh Gohil, the Congress spokesman who is making the allegation that Mr Modi is "a fake OBC."

Before that, many years of research, consultations, etc., were conducted before declaring Mr Modi's caste a part of Other Backward Classes in 1994. In the wake of the Mandal Commission recommendations, the Government of India also expressed its approval for including Madh Ghanchi in the central list of the Other Backward Classes. The government of Gujarat duly notified the sub-caste as an OBC in 2000.

All this happened much before Mr Modi became the Chief Minister of Gujarat. What troubles me enormously is as to why an old, large party like the Congress is bent upon committing one faux-pas after another just to have multiple eggs on its face. Even before the results of the Lok Sabha polls are announced, the Congress appears not only to be rattled, but also unnerved.

I see the Congress' attack on Mr Modi's caste background as part of a pattern. It demonstrates the elitist disdain of the Congress party against the rise of Mr Modi, who was born in want and poverty, whose father used to sell tea and whose mother used to wash the clothes of their neighbours.  That he could become powerful enough to take the Congress' First Family head-on and most likely to become the country's Prime Minister is simply unpalatable to them.

It is this elitist arrogance and gross refusal to acknowledge that a man from a poor and humble background like Mr Modi is challenging them successfully  that is forcing the Congress to commit one mistake after another. Under pressure, they have forgotten to do even their basic homework, and have also failed to read the mood of the people.

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