Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused the Congress of "hating" Dalits today, reiterating the allegation that blew up during the 2022 Presidential elections. Speaking at an election rally in Sidhi, Madhya Pradesh, he raised the issue of appointment of the first Dalit Chief Information Commissioner, pointing out that the Congress had skipped the meeting.
The Congress boycotted the meeting called to appoint Hiralal Samaria as the first Dalit Chief Information Commissioner, even though the party was invited on time, he said.
"I canceled my election tour and went to Delhi for the meeting. A Dalit from Rajasthan was being made the Chief Information Commissioner for the first time," PM Modi said.
"They (the Congress) were invited to the meeting. The invite was sent before time. They even had a telephonic conversation. But when they came to know that a Dalit was going to be appointed, they boycotted the meeting. They hate Dalits so much," PM Modi said.
Madhya Pradesh -- where elections are due on November 17 -- has a sizeable chunk of Dalit and tribal population, which has been leaning towards the Congress. The votes, though, are crucial for the BJP, which is trying to get another term in the state.
The tit-for-tat allegations of mistreating Dalits and tribals have been a recurring theme in this election.
In September, the Prime Minister had said the Congress "hated" the poor, Dalits, tribals, and OBCs. This, he had said, was part of their "hatred for Modi".
"They are troubled as to how this person coming from a backward section of the society became the Prime Minister. They had reservation on the PM's chair. They are abusing the entire backward society in the name of Modi," he had said at a rally in Chhattisgarh's Bilaspur, an area dominated by Dalits and tribals.
The BJP has been slamming the Congress since it decided to put up candidate against Droupadi Murmu in July 2022 and put up Yashwant Sinha as the Opposition candidate.
The Congress has hit back.
Congress's Rahul Gandhi has questioned why the Prime Minister identifies himself as an OBC (Other Backward Classes) "if he believes that there is only one caste, the poor". He has also tied the issue to the Opposition demand for a caste census, saying, "Since Modi ji became the PM, he regularly claims that he is OBC but when it comes to helping OBC by conducting caste census, then the PM says that there is no caste".
He has also accused the BJP of insulting tribals by referring to them as "vanvasi" instead of "adivasi".