Congress party media in-charge and key Rahul Gandhi-aide Randeep Singh Surjewala openly brandished the caste card at an event of the 'Brahmin Samaj' at Haryana's Kurukshetra on Monday, a video of which has been accessed by Republic TV.
In the video, Surjewala, who is also a Haryana MLA, can be seen occupying the dais with a number of others milled around him. He begins by saying 'From this gathering of the Brahmin Samaj, there is a need for a new social uprising.'
He proceeds to say that there is Brahmin Samaj's DNA within the Congress:
"One of my colleagues asked why is a Brahmin conference being held using Rahul Gandhi's photo and under the Congress party flag and the Tricolour? I said that I will respond to this from this platform one day. Indian National Congress is that party, my friends, in whose blood there is Brahmin Samaj's DNA."
Surjewala goes on to make references to personalities from India's history and the freedom struggle, invoking Mangal Pandey, Ram Prasad Bismil, Chandra Sekhar Azad, Motilal Nehru and former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, saying that the Congress is the party that has 'since the first struggle for Independence till today given such leadership that has shown the way forward to society.'
He then arrives at Rahul Gandhi, saying, '...and your son who leads this party, Rahul Gandhi... he has embarked on the Yatra of Bhole Nath alone (referring to the Congress president undertaking the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra)', and draws a parallel between 'Gods and Demons', and 'Rahul Gandhi and leaders of the BJP':
'The fight between Gods and Demons has been happening since time immemorial. In Mythology, whenever Vishwamitra sat for prayers, demons would try to foil it. Whenever anyone prayed for Bhole Shankar (Lord Shiva) demons would gather to foil it. Even today, Shiv-bhakt, your son, Congress chief and our leader Rahul Gandhi is on his way to Bhole Shankar's Yatra to Kailash Mansarovar. And who's trying to foil his trip? Leaders of the BJP'.
Surjewala then asks 'What lesson should they be taught?', before pulling back. 'I won't comment on it. It's not my right. This war between Gods and Demons will go on. I just want to say that Congress is that party which has always fought for the ostracised, for social justice, for Dalits, for the deprived and for the poor... Fought for social equality... That is why we dared to organise this Brahmin Sammelan with your blessings.'
The statements by Surjewala constitute the latest in an increasingly frequent set of moves by the Congress party to raise both caste and religion in a political context. Rahul Gandhi has repeatedly politicised the controversy resulting from the alleged 'dilution' of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act by the Supreme Court by choosing to pin it on the central government which he accused of 'scrapping the act' altogether. While he was called out over the inaccuracy of his statement by BJP party president Amit Shah, he has continued to stick to his line. Meanwhile, in terms of religion the Congress president has swung this way and that, with his party's leaders using the words 'Janaeudhari Brahmin' and 'Shiv-Bhakt' to describe him from the time of his temple-run during the Gujarat elections, to allegations that during a pair of closed-door meetings, he said that the Congress was a party for Muslims and that he didn't believe in any form of Hindutva, respectively.