New Delhi: The Congress has called for increasing the upper limit on reservations for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Castes (OBC) at a “historic” Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting held in Hyderabad, Telangana on Saturday (September 16).
The two-day meeting is the first conducted by the new CWC which includes 39 main members, who were appointed by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge in August. It also has special invitees, ex-officio members and incharges.
On day one of the meeting, the party passed a main resolution as well as three separate ones. This included a condolence resolution on the demise of former Kerala chief minister Oomen Chandy, a resolution on the ongoing ethnic violence in Manipur, as well as one committing to rebuild Himachal Pradesh where over 400 people have died after unprecedented rain and floods.
The meeting, which comes ahead of the general elections next year and five state elections this year in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana, will continue on Sunday when the party is expected to take up organisational issues around the polls.
“I will speak in detail on the organisational issues surrounding the upcoming Legislative Assembly and Lok Sabha elections tomorrow in the Extended CWC Meeting,” said Kharge in his remarks.
Ahead of the meeting, addressing a press conference on Saturday morning, Congress spokesperson and media and publicity department chief Pawan Khera said that discussions would be held in a free and fair manner while hailing the “historic” election of Kharge as the party chief last year.
Referring to Kharge’s election as a “historic” milestone for the party, Khera said, “No other party in this country has had this kind of an open election.”
“We are very proud of our tradition of electing our president through an open election. When we meet today in a few hours from now in the CWC, there will be an open discussion. Everybody’s free to voice his or her opinion, suggestion, or criticism. That is the way our party functions,” he added.
In its main resolution, the CWC has called for increasing the existing upper limit on reservations for SC/ST and OBCs in the country while expressing “grave concern” for increasing unemployment and continuous rise in prices of essential commodities.
“The CWC expresses its grave concern at increasing unemployment and continuous rise in prices, especially of essential commodities. The Prime Minister’s so-called Rozgar Melas are a hoax to cover up the abject failure to create, as promised, two crore jobs a year,” the resolution said.
It said that the failure to conduct a population census, which was last conducted in 2011, “is a national and an international shame.”
“One of the consequences is that an estimated 14 crore of the poorest Indians are denied their entitlement to food rations since ration cards are issued on the basis of the 2011 Census.
“The CWC also underlines the stubborn refusal of the Modi government to conduct a Caste Census. This refusal in the face of a universal demand has exposed the BJP’s lack of commitment to social and economic justice and its bias against the backward classes, Dalits and tribal people. In this context, the CWC also calls for increasing the existing upper limit of reservations for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and OBCs,” it said.
The party has also promised to conduct a caste census in Madhya Pradesh if voted to power. It has also urged the Modi government to implement a caste census in the country.
The CWC resolution also said that prime minister Narendra Modi has failed in his promise made in his first Independence Day speech in 2014 where he called for a 10-year moratorium on casteism, communalism and regionalism.
“Ironically, the three evils have aggravated in the last nine years thanks to the divisive and discriminatory policies adopted by the Prime Minister, his government and his party.”
The resolution has also drawn attention to the economy and said while the country’s economic outlook remains bleak, the government is solely concerned with “headline management”.
JPC on Adani, call for a Women’s Reservation Bill
Ahead of the special session of parliament due to begin on Monday (September 18), the CWC resolution has reiterated the party’s demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the allegations of market manipulation by firms linked to Gautam Adani.
The party has also demanded that the Women’s Reservation Bill be passed during the special session.
Referring to the Election Commissioners Bill that has been listed for consideration and passage by the Modi government in its agenda for the session released on Wednesday, the Congress said that the legislation will “severely compromise the independence of the Election Commission to conduct free and fair elections”.
Addressing a press conference on Saturday evening, while deliberations on the final resolution were still underway, former union minister P. Chidambaram said that the party will oppose the bill in parliament.
The resolution has also asked the Modi government to “come clean on the border dispute with China and take a resolute stand against any challenge to the territorial integrity of India.”
Bharat Jodo Yatra
The party has hailed the Bharat Jodo Yatra conducted by MP Rahul Gandhi last year and called it “a transformational moment in the nation’s politics” to unite the people against the forces that are dividing India.
When asked about another Bharat Jodo Yatra, Chidambaram said that the idea of a second instalment is being explored.
“There have been requests by members of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) that we should have a Bharat Jodo Yatra 2 from the east to the west. That matter is under consideration,” he said.
Last month, Gandhi visited Ladakh in a five-day trip to the union territory that was described by the party as an “offshoot” of the Yatra.