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Congress top post reserved for one family, nothing new in Rahul’s elevation: Nitish

The Bihar chief minister was also critical of Congress’s efforts to project Rahul as a ‘brahminical Hindu’, saying it indicated the party’s tilt towards extremism for votes.

patna Updated: Dec 04, 2017 21:53 IST
Anil Kumar
Anil Kumar
Hindustan Times, Patna
Nitish Kumar,Congress,Rahul Gandhi
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar addresses a press conference at his official residence in Patna on Monday.(PTI)

Chief minister Nitish Kumar on Monday took a dig at Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as party president, saying the top post in Congress was always reserved for one family.

“Congress keeps the leadership position reserved. It is a tradition. There is nothing new to it,” Kumar told newsmen after his weekly Lok Samvad (public interaction) programme.

When asked why he was mocking Rahul’s elevation when the practice was prevalent in other regional parties, including JD(U) and RJD, in which top leaders were elected “unopposed”, Kumar said, “Organisational elections were conducted from panchayat to state level. If there is no one willing to contest for national president, what can be done?”

The ruling JD(U) president said the position of senior Congress leaders came only after the family. “Though it is their internal matter, it remains to be seen how he takes the party forward,” he added.

Taking a critical view of Rahul’s frequent temple visits in Gujarat, Kumar said, “Visiting temples or mazar (mausoleum or shrine) is a matter of personal faith. But when such a practice is used for electoral gains, it is a sign of panic.”

He also observed that efforts by Congress to project Rahul as a ‘janeu dhari (one who wears Brahminical thread) Hindu’ was indicative of their gravitation towards a kind of extremism for votes.

“It has already alienated a vast majority of poor and downtrodden sections of society, who don’t wear the scared thread,” he said.

Maintaining that nothing was going to stop BJP from registering a spectacular win again, Kumar said he was amazed by the transformation in Congress’s politics.

“They have even desisted from putting up adequate number of Muslim candidates in proportion to their population. Even prominent minority leaders like Ahmed Patel have not been deployed for campaigning,” he said, alluding to “reports filtering in from Gujarat”.

Kumar also welcomed Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s stand for a constitutional amendment to pave the way for ensuring reservations in job promotions.

“We introduced it. Our decision was struck down by the high court. Now the matter is pending before the Supreme Court,” he said, reiterating his support for extension of quota in private sector, where the jobs existed.

On being asked about eligibility criteria, Kumar said, “Just like in government jobs, it will be determined on the constitutional yardstick of educational and social backwardness.”

“The matter needs to be debated at the national level so that a comprehensive legislation is passed by Parliament,” he said, adding, “Economic criteria did not come into play as quota was introduced with the limited purpose of ensuring equal opportunity to mainstream backward and deprived sections.”

As for economically weaker sections among upper castes, Kumar said governments can come to their aid through other welfare measures like stipends, scholarships, student credit cards, etc., most of which already have universal access in states like Bihar.

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ENDORSEMENT Kumar welcomes Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s stand for a constitutional amendment to pave the way for ensuring reservations in job promotions

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Kumar also observed that efforts by Congress to project Rahul as a ‘janeu dhari (one who wears Brahminical thread) Hindu’ was indicative of their gravitation towards a kind of extremism for votes

First Published: Dec 04, 2017 17:55 IST