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Dalit agenda priority for Cong’s 2014 manifesto

Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 16, 2014
First Published: 00:46 IST(16/1/2014) | Last Updated: 01:16 IST(16/1/2014)

A comprehensive agenda for Dalits is likely to be a part of  Congress 2014 poll manifesto after the party had to bite the dust in reserved seats in the recently-held assembly polls in key states. The party will revive the promise of reservation in private sector for Dalits.

From quality education to enhanced employment opportunities — the Congress is looking at a host of offers to woo the Dalit voters. The party will talk of scholarships in skill development and a credit guarantee to banks on loans for Dalit entrepreneurs.

The first draft of the Congress manifesto is set to be ready in the next two weeks for the Congress Working Committee to clear it for release in public domain.

“In our website on manifesto, we have received some proposals and we are working on a comprehensive Dalit agenda to give the vulnerable section its due,” K Raju, chairman of the Scheduled Caste (SC) department of Congress told HT. The plan comes after Rahul Gandhi last year pitched for “Jupiter’s escape velocity” to empower Dalits.

Its earlier attempts to force a reservation for SC/ST in the private sector failing, the Congress may promise reservation in select companies with a minimum slab of investment and employee strength. Hostel for Dalit students and scholarships in skill-oriented courses are also under consideration.

The party, facing 10 years anti-incumbency, is keen to push sops for Dalits after it suffered a major loss in assembly polls of Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and  could win only six out of 91 SC seats.

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