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Cong works hard on UP social engineering

Ahead of the assembly elections in politically crucial Uttar Pradesh, the Congress has gone all out to woo not only the minorities but Dalits and most backward castes (MBCs) as well.

delhi Updated: Feb 05, 2012 22:47 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times

Ahead of the assembly elections in politically crucial Uttar Pradesh, the Congress has gone all out to woo not only the minorities but Dalits and most backward castes (MBCs) as well.

Apart from promising job quota to minorities and MBCs, the Congress has also pledged to set up a fund to research on the heroes of freedom movement, especially from Dalit and MBCs such as Lochan Nishad, Samadhan Mallah, Uda Devi Pasi and Mahaviri Bhangin.

The party has also promised to set up religio-cultural centres in the memory of Dalit icons such as Sant Ravidas, Sant Shiv Narayan, Sant Valmiki, Sant Jagjivan Das, Sant Daria Sahab and Nishad Raj Guhya.

The party feels that even more than 6 decades after independence, not much is known about the Dalit and MBC leaders who had played a dominating role in India’s freedom struggle. “There is a strong need to explore their contribution to the freedom struggle,” a Congress leader said.

The move is an essential part of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s strategy to woo all segments of the society in order to win back the state for the party after being out of power for more than two decades.

The party is also leaving no stone unturned to woo the other backward classes (OBCs). Its new OBC mascot is Sam Pitroda.

The Congress is also making a strong pitch for sub-categorisation of OBCs. “This will lead to more equitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the castes/communities included in the broad category of OBC,” law minister Salman Khurshid said.

The carefully-crafted social engineering by the Congress is thus aimed at denting the vote-banks of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP).

Such a social coalition, comprising Dalits, upper castes, MBCs and Muslims, had paid rich electoral dividends to Mayawati in the 2007 assembly elections.

EC rejects Cong ad on quota

The Election Commission (EC) has rejected the Congress’s poll advertisement on sub-quota for minorities, which the party had promised in the run-up to the assembly elections.

A state-level Media Certification and Monitoring Committee, to which the EC referred the ads for approval, has rejected the advertisement even as it cleared one on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Scheme (MGNREGS).

The party had sought the commission's approval for its advertisement campaign on minority sub-quota and MNREGA designed specially for Uttar Pradesh.

The ads as submitted by the Congress for approval include an audio advertisement each on MNREGA and minorities’ sub-quota and a video advertisement highlighting the grant of sub-quota to minorities.

Following the disapproval from the UP media committee, the party is making changes in the sub-quota advertisement and will launch the same ahead of the seven-phase UP assembly polls starting on February 8.

The commission had earlier asked the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to put on hold the sub-quota for Muslims till the elections are completed in the five states.

Law minister Salman Khurshid got embroiled in the quota controversy after he had promised to double the sub-quota for minorities while campaigning for his wife in Farrukhabad last month.

(PTI and HTC)

First Published: Feb 05, 2012 22:45 IST