New Delhi: A caste census will be a true tribute to Karpoori Thakur as the country now needs "real justice" and not "politics of symbolism", Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Wednesday, even as he welcomed the decision to confer Bharat Ratna on the socialist leader.
Two-time Bihar chief minister Thakur has been named for the country's highest civilian award Bharat Ratna posthumously.
"I pay respectful tribute to Jannayak Karpoori Thakur ji, an incomparable warrior of social justice, on his birth centenary. He is certainly a precious gem of India and the decision to award him Bharat Ratna posthumously is welcome," Gandhi said in a post in Hindi on X.
The former Congress chief alleged that the BJP government's "concealment" of the results of the social and economic caste census conducted in 2011 and their "indifference" towards a nationwide census is an attempt to weaken the movement for social justice.
"'Justice of equal participation', one of the five justices of the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, is at the centre of justice and social equality, which can begin only after the caste census," Gandhi said.
"In the true sense, this step will also be a true tribute to Jannayak Karpoori Thakur ji and his struggles for the rights of the backward and the deprived," he said.
"The country now needs 'real justice' not 'politics of symbolism'," Gandhi asserted.
Thakur, who was born on this day in 1924 and passed away in 1988, was the first non-Congress socialist leader who became chief minister twice -- first for seven months in December 1970 and later for two years in 1977.
Thakur, known affectionately as 'Jan Nayak' (people's leader), is the 49th recipient of the country's highest civilian award. The award was last conferred on late president Pranab Mukherjee in 2019.
Born on January 24, 1924 in Nai samaj (barber society), Thakur is credited in Bihar politics for enforcing total prohibition of alcohol in 1970. The village where he was born in Samistupur district was renamed after him as Karpuri Gram.
He was inspired by heavyweights like Ram Manohar Lohia who spearheaded the socialist movement in post-Independent India. He was also close to Jayaprakash Narayan.