The country has become 'slave' to a handful of Bharatiya Janata Party-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leaders, Congress president Rahul Gandhi alleged on Monday and asserted that the entire Opposition will unite in six months to a year to show the trio -- Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah and RSS head Mohan Bhagwat -- that India will be run by its people and not by them alone.
Addressing a convention of party workers from Other Backward Classes, Gandhi attacked the Modi government over lack of opportunities given to those who are gifted with talent and skills, saying doors of banks and of politics are shut for OBCs in India.
The Congress chief also accused the RSS of dividing people and not allowing them an opportunity to prosper.
"Today, our nation has become slave to two-three leaders of the BJP and the RSS. No one can stop the entire opposition from getting together in six-seven months to a year, and Modi, Shah and Bhagwat will see the strength of India... They will understand that India cannot be run by only three people. India will be run by people of the country," he said, drawing applause from the crowd.
He alleged that everyone, including BJP MPs, were afraid to speak out as they were not allowed to talk and it was 'only the RSS that is heard'.
"I will tell you the difference between the Congress and the BJP. The Congress puts people in a bus and hands over the keys to them to drive it, but the BJP puts its people in a bus and asks them to keep quiet and hands over the keys to the RSS to run it...Narendra Modi and Mohan Bhagwat drive this bus," the Congress chief said.
"What is this force that separates the talent and reward. This force is called the RSS that separates and divides people. Their attempt is to divide the entire OBC section in the society so that they are unable to put forth their demands and get finished," he alleged.
Gandhi, however, drew a sharp criticism from Union minister and OBC leader Ram Kripal Yadav, termed the Congress chief's allegations as 'vote bank politics' aimed at 'hoodwinking' the community for their votes.
Yadav said the Congress has lost its votes in all sections of society and its OBC outreach is driven by its concern over its losing ground.
While Gandhi is sounding concerned at the condition of the OBC, he should answer what the Congress governments did for decades, Yadav said, claiming that Dalits and backward classes are major beneficiaries of the Modi welfare schemes.
Referring to Modi's OBC background, Yadav said India has got a leader at the top after a long who is working for welfare of the community.
Gandhi also alleged that the Modi government had ignored the interests of farmers but helped a small group of industrialists by waiving loans totalling about Rs 2.5 lakh crore. The Congress president also claimed that non-performing assets of banks have risen to Rs 10 lakh crore.
At the event, Gandhi said a fashion designer was booed in Paris, not because of his brown skin but for keeping his tailor behind a door.
"In India one works but the benefit goes to someone else. This is the reality in India that someone possesses the talent and skills but the benefits are derived by another," he said.
Seeking to win over the OBC community that comprises a huge proportion of India's population, Gandhi said his party recognises the strength of backward classes and wants to empower them by bringing them forward in politics.
Promising to give 'space' to OBCs, he said, "We want to bring you forward and hand over the keys to the bus. India cannot progress unless you bring the OBCs forward and empower them by opening the doors of banks and of politics..."
"The Congress will bring you in Vidhan Sabhas, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. We wish to empower you. We will not put you in a bus with a 'do not disturb' board, but will hand over the keys of the bus to you," he said.
Taking a swipe at the prime minister, he said, "People who really work are confined to the back room, but the profit of their labour is enjoyed by others. India's prime minister says there is dearth of skills in the country. This is not true.
"There is no dearth of skills in the OBC community, as they are endowed with skills... People with skills are not rewarded in India... farmers work hard but you don't see them in the office of Modi-ji."
Gandhi also cited examples of successful American entrepreneurs to attack Modi's policies but took the analogies too far by describing the founder of Coca-Cola as a 'shinkanji seller' and that of McDonald's a 'dhaba wala'.
He also said the founders of auto giants Ford, Mercedes and Honda were 'mechanics' whose skills were recognised by the meritocratic system in their countries and allowed them to prosper. For 70 years, the Congress party had stood by the OBC community and it would continue to strive for its rights, Gandhi said.
Attacking the BJP, he said the party had adopted a strategy to help only 15-20 rich capitalists, who will spend thousands of crores to market the prime minister. In turn, the PM will run the government for them and all benefits will go to them, the Congress president added.
Congress leader Ashok Gehlot said there are 52 per cent OBCs in India and it was his party that gave reservation in jobs, including 27 per cent to OBCs.
The former Rajasthan Chief Minister said it is only the Congress that recognised the talent among backwards and gave them an opportunity to progress further, while citing his own example.