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HindustanTimes Mon,29 Dec 2014

Congress 'studies' caste politics for poll gains

Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 08, 2013
First Published: 00:50 IST(8/7/2013) | Last Updated: 10:44 IST(8/7/2013)

In an acknowledgement of the overwhelming influence of the caste factor in electoral politics, the Congress has sought a break-up of various castes in all the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies from its state units in preparation for the next general elections.

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In a confidential communication to all Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chiefs, party general secretary Madhusudan Mistry has directed them to submit population figures and caste break-up along with the complete details of sitting candidates and aspirants as well.

Mistry, a close confidante of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, is in-charge of the party’s powerful central election committee that picks poll candidates. He is also tasked with the responsibility of identifying potential candidates on all the 543 Lok Sabha seats.

In particular, he asked poll-bound Delhi, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram to submit these details on an urgent basis as the assembly elections in these states are due in November-December this year.

The communication from Mistry to PCC chiefs is in line with Gandhi’s “unfinished agenda” of giving backward castes, Dalits and tribals their share in the Congress organisation and also in distribution of party tickets.

He has often regretted that young people, particularly belonging to the marginalised sections of the society, have not been given adequate representation in his party. At the same time, he has consistently spoken against playing politics of caste and religion.

The Congress tested the social engineering formula in ticket distribution in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh assembly elections by giving adequate representation to Muslims, Other Backward Castes (OBCs), Most Backward Castes (MBCs), Dalits and Ati-Dalits (most backward Dalits), but the move failed to yield the desired results.

On his part, Mistry, an OBC leader from Gujarat, is buoyed by the outcome of recent assembly elections in Karnataka where he used the caste arithmetic to his party’s advantage. He now wants to replicate his success formula in other states as well.


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