Indore (Madhya Pradesh): Union minister Prahlad Singh Patel on Tuesday alleged the opposition INDIA alliance was trying to garner votes by "luring" people on the issue of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
Patel is among the three Union ministers fielded by the BJP in the upcoming Madhya Pradesh assembly elections. He will contest from Narsinghpur.
"Discussing OBCs and actually strengthening the leadership of this class are two different things. The BJP works to strengthen the OBC leadership whereas the opposition bloc tries to garner votes by luring people," Patel said.
He was responding to a query on demands by leaders of the INDIA bloc, including Rahul Gandhi, for conducting a caste census in the country.
A day earlier the Nitish Kumar government released a caste survey, which revealed OBCs and EBCs constitute a whopping 63 per cent of Bihar's total population.
Patel said the opposition was trying in vain to discredit the BJP which has taken multiple steps in the interest of OBCs.
"It is BJP which gave the country the first prime minister from the OBC category in the form of Narendra Modi," he said, adding that one can go through the list of BJP's chief ministers as far as giving leadership to backward classes is concerned.
Patel said it was Modi who had given constitutional recognition to the Backward Classes Commission.
"This recognition was not given by those political parties who have been playing mere politics and engaged in rhetoric for the last 71-72 years on OBCs," he said.
The Congress has not yet declared candidates for the Madhya Pradesh elections, due in November this year, while the ruling BJP has released three lists of 79 nominees so far.
"The Congress was shocked when the first list of BJP candidates was released. They panicked when the second list of BJP was issued. The fourth list of our party's candidates is about to come," Patel added.
In a jibe, he said the Congress has no option but to imitate BJP.
"But the Congress cannot copy us in the matter of declaring candidates for the assembly elections because that party's leadership in MP is the same as it was before 2003. Their leadership is tired and tainted. They cannot challenge the BJP," the Union minister said.
Queried on Aam Aadmi Party, a constituent of the INDIA bloc, declaring its candidate for Madhya Pradesh polls, Patel said, "This is their internal matter. But such conflicts (among the constituent parties) keep happening in this alliance. Such conflicts are seen in Bihar and Delhi".