Rahul Gandhi bats for dalit rights in Gujarat’s Patan


Patan (Gujarat), April 29 : Insisting that the ongoing Lok Sabha election is a critical battle between two contrasting ideologies, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for posing a “direct threat” to India’s democracy and constitution.

“This is a fight between two thought processes. On one side, the BJP and RSS want to finish our constitution while on the other, we in the Congress and the INDIA bloc are safeguarding it,” said Gandhi while addressing a rally in Patan Lok Sabha constituency in Gujarat.

The Congress leader also blamed the ruling government for the socio-economic disparities that have intensified in recent years.

“In the last decade, the wealth gap has widened significantly. Today, 22 individuals in India control wealth equivalent to that of 17,000 crore Indians,” he remarked, suggesting that these disparities began in Gujarat and have since permeated nationwide.

He also criticised the government’s policies like the Agnipath Scheme and increased privatisation, which he said aimed at dismantling the reservation system.

“You will not find an Adivasi or a Dalit among the top anchors and editors in the country. Nor will you see unemployed youth or farmers on television, which instead showcases the opulent weddings of the wealthy and Bollywood actors,” said Gandhi.

Highlighting the current unemployment crisis, he emphasised that such issues are grossly underreported, with the voices of 90 per cent of Indians comprising farmers, labourers and small business owners rarely heard in the media.

The Congress leader also stressed the importance of a caste census for ensuring justice and proper representation for Dalits and Adivasis, questioning their absence from significant events like the Ram Mandir and Parliament inaugurations.

Patan seat was initially dominated by the Congress and later challenged by other parties like the Swatantra Party and Lok Dal.

A pivotal moment came in 1989 when the seat was reserved for the Scheduled Caste category, leading to a win for the Janata Dal. This marked a shift in the nature of political representation in Patan. The BJP won the seat in 1991 with Mahesh Kanodia setting the stage for ongoing contests between the BJP and Congress.