Congress plans 50% quota for SC, ST, OBC and minorities in party office
A department will collect data for social engineering and make it available to Pradesh Congress committees and other party units, said Salman Khurshid, who is the organizer of the social justice and empowerment panel .
Udaipur: Congress is set to provide 50% representation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, OBCs and minorities at all levels of party organization as part of its social engineering efforts to regain trust weaker sections.
In a change of stance on quotas within quotas in the Women’s Reservation Bill, the party is likely to resolve to demand that from the Women’s Reserve in Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies, there is a proportional reserve for SC, ST and OBC women. .
Addressing a press briefing on the deliberations of the Social Justice and Empowerment Panel formed by party leader Sonia Gandhi to lead discussions on this issue during the Congress’ three-day ‘Nav Sankalp Chintan Shivir’ here , senior leader and Union minister Salman Khurshid said the establishment of a social justice advisory council to the president of Congress was also recommended by the panel.
There will be an attached department which will collect data for social engineering and make it available to Pradesh Congress (PCC) committees and other party units, said Khurshid, who is the panel organizer on social justice and empowerment.
Social justice is a principled commitment, but the basic instrument for it is social engineering, he said.
K Raju, a panel member and coordinator overseeing the activities of the SC/OBC/Minorities departments of Congress, said the party constitution now provides for a 20% reserve for SCs, STs, OBCs and minorities.
“The group discussed and decided that in the short term we needed to increase this to 50 per cent reservation in all committees, starting with cabin committees, block committees, district committees, PCC and CWC, must be provided, he mentioned.
Some participants believe we need to go beyond 50%, but members felt we need to move from 20% to 50% first, he said.
Raju said the Khurshid-led group has identified that there are many sub-castes within the SCs and STs and the party needs to focus on the sub-castes which have so far not been represented. in the organization or in the government, and do justice to them.
“So from now on special attention will be given to identify the sub-castes of those communities who have not been adequately represented in the organization and also in the government,” Raju said.
He said the panel also recommended for adoption by the CWC that once every six months there be a special session of the working committee, PCCs, DCCs to discuss all matters concerning the SCs, ST, OBCs and minorities, so that the party listens to their issues and makes decisions accordingly.
The panel also discussed key policy commitments to demand from the government in power and implement them where Congress is in power, Raju said.
“The group debated at length the issue related to the caste-based census of OBCs and all other communities. The group strongly recommended that Congress demand and express its commitment to a caste-based census,” did he declare.
Raju said there was a discussion in the panel on the Women’s Reservation Bill and it was recommended that the party push for a quota within the quota.
On the reserve provided for women, there should be a proportional reserve for women SC, ST, OBC, Raju said.
When asked why there was a reversal in his position because when the UPA government passed the Women Reservation Bill in Rajya Sabha, he resisted quotas within quotas, Khurshid said: Sometimes you have to push legislations strategically, we committed to a quota for women and the problem with the quota within a quota was that we assumed there would be no deal and easy consensus on this and that the result would be that we would lose the reserve for women at this stage.
“Therefore, a conscious strategic decision was made that allowed us to get the quota first and then we will see further segmentation.” Now we have lost a lot of time and the policy has also undergone a significant change since then and we believe now is the right time to make it clear where you stand, Khurshid said.
He said the party advocates women’s participation comprehensively so that women of all categories can participate.
“We don’t want anyone to believe that there is a hidden agenda that you are bringing in women, but you are bringing in women who find it easy to get elected. Therefore, after thoughtful input, we have come to the conclusion that we recommend to the CWC that now is the time to take the bull by the horns and make sure we get quotas within quotas, all pushed in one fell swoop,” Khurshid said.
There is no inconsistency, we have moved from this position where we strategically thought that the quota should come first, he added.
Responding to another question on the party’s change of position on quotas within quotas, senior Congress official and former Union Minister Kumari Selja said: “There was never any objection to that (quota within quotas) At that time there was a coalition government and it was difficult to bring everyone together.
Noting that a very important policy for the advancement of SCs and STs was the sub-plan of castes and the tribal sub-plan, Raju said that the group recommended central and state legislation on them.
Another important issue that the group has deliberated and is in the process of recommending is booking into the private sector for SC ST and OBCs as public sector jobs are shrinking, Raju said.
He said the policy of reserving OBCs in State Legislatures and Parliament was also debated and the group is inclined to recommend reserving OBCs in Assemblies and Parliament.
Discussions at the “Chintan Shivir”, which started on Friday, will also continue on the third day and the conclusions will be recorded in the form of a statement. A draft declaration will be discussed at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting to be held here on the third and final day of the conclave.
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