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CWC calls for reservation upper limit to be raised

By, Hyderabad
Sep 16, 2023 11:49 PM IST

The reconstituted CWC met for the first time after the Congress and 27 other parties formed the INDIA alliance in Patna on June 23

In an attempt to win over caste groups and tribal voters ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Saturday called for a higher reservation limit for the SCs, STs, and OBCs while it slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for aggravated casteism, communalism and regionalism due to his “divisive and discriminatory policies”.

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge and party leader Rahul Gandhi during the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, at Taj Krishna in Hyderabad on Saturday. (ANI Photo)
Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge and party leader Rahul Gandhi during the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, at Taj Krishna in Hyderabad on Saturday. (ANI Photo)

The Congress, which has lost the lion’s share of its vote bank in states such as Bihar and UP in the post-Mandal Commission politics, said on Saturday, “The CWC calls for increasing the existing upper limit of reservations for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and OBCs”. The push for higher quotas along with its demand for a caste census is seen as the Congress’s attempt to counter the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Hindutva politics with caste arithmetic.

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The party alleged that the Modi government has stubbornly refused to conduct a caste census and said, “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.”

At the same time, the Congress tried to attack the BJP, which has 77 MPs on the 131 SC and ST seats in the Lok Sabha, for increasing attacks on the backward castes. In its resolution, the CWC said, “In his first Independence Day speech, the Prime Minister had 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. He has not acted against those who committed atrocities against the poor and vulnerable people, especially women, minorities, Dalits and Adivasis.”

The Congress efforts to ramp up its outreach to caste groups came after the DMK called a meeting in Chennai in April on the issue of “Taking the Social Justice in India forward”. The meeting was attended by all Opposition parties, which later formed the INDIA alliance.

The reconstituted CWC met for the first time after the Congress and 27 other parties formed the INDIA alliance in Patna on June 23.

The working committee, the top executive body of the party, “wholeheartedly” welcomed the consolidation of the alliance and announced, “The CWC reiterates the Congress party’s resolve to make the INDIA initiative an ideological and electoral success so that our country is freed from divisive and polarising politics, the forces of social equity and justice are strengthened, and the people get a Union government that is responsible, responsive, sensitive, transparent and accountable,” pitching for an electoral victory in the 2024.

Launching a frontal attack on the BJP ahead of the election season, the CWC said its rival’s political discourse “is laced with poison, promotes hate speech and violence, encourages divisive forces, and polarises society”.

The CWC, which discussed the current situation of the country over more than six hours, noted that Manipur “is bitterly divided” and maintained that “the economic outlook remains bleak”.

The panel also flagged concern over price rise and unemployment and called the PM’s Rozgar Melas “a hoax to cover up the abject failure to create, as promised, two crore jobs a year”.

It also summarily rejected the call for a new Constitution and the mischievous argument that the basic structure of the Constitution can be changed. “The Modi government’s assault on the Constitution must be condemned and resisted by all democratic forces to safeguard the foundational ideas of the Constitution drafted by Babasaheb Dr Ambedkar and his compatriots,” it said.

Ahead of the special session, the CWC noted that “parliamentary debate and scrutiny have all but disappeared and far-reaching legislation is hurriedly pushed through without proper scrutiny and discussion”.

It announced it will not support the Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment) Bill and also demanded that the Women’s Reservation Bill be passed during the special session.

The CWC reiterated its demand for a JPC (joint parliamentary committee) on the transactions of the Adani business group and said it has been “the prime beneficiary of the Prime Minister’s close friendship and the government’s biased policies and administrative largesse”.

The CWC extended its deepest sympathies to the families of army and police officers who were killed in the recent violence in Jammu and Kashmir. It also appreciated party chief Mallikarjun Kharge’s contributions and maintained that “he has been fearlessly and relentlessly holding the Prime Minister to account for his anti-people priorities, policies and programmes”.

In his speech, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi emphasised that the party must stand by the poor people of all commodities. He said the poor suffer the most from price rise, inequalities and job opportunities.

Party leader P Chidambaram said BJP is seeking to divert attention from the pressing issues and create “a false narrative”.

“One nation, one election is an assault on the Constitution. We reject it. It is an attack on federalism. It will require at least five Constitutional amendments. The BJP knows that it does not have the numbers to pass these constitutional amendments. Yet if it (BJP) puts forward this mirage of One Nation, One Election, it is only to divert attention from the pressing issues and to create a false narrative,” Chidambaram said.

Unveiling 'Elections 2024: The Big Picture', a fresh segment in HT's talk show 'The Interview with Kumkum Chadha', where leaders across the political spectrum discuss the upcoming general elections. Watch Now!

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