Rahul Gandhi sent SOS to scrap caste quotas by Congress leader

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 4 2014, 19:18pm hrs
Rahul GandhiJanardan Dwivedi urged Rahul Gandhi to introduce quota for financially weaker sections bringing all communities under its ambit. AP
Rahul Gandhi urged to introduce quota for financially weaker sections bringing all communities under its ambit and at the same time end reservations along caste lines by senior Congress leader Janardan Dwivedi today.

Dwivedi's pitch to end caste-based reservation, that could raise many eyebrows, comes at a time when the Congress is pursuing minority sub quota, supporting reservation in promotion for SCs/STs and appears favourably disposed towards reservation for Jats.

Rahul Gandhi now stands boxed in between two opposing stances.

"This (reservation on caste lines) should have come to an end. Why it did not happen so far was because vested interests got into the process. Does the real needy person even among the Dalits and backward castes get the benefits of reservation Those in the upper crust of these communities only avail the benefits. There is a difference between social justice and casteism.

"The concept of social justice has now turned into casteism... I believe there is a need to dismantle this.... Since Rahul Gandhiji is seeking views of people directly for the party manifesto, I am now urging him that he should take a bold decision," the party general secretary said.

"Reservation on the basis of economic condition of people should be talked about. Rahul Gandhi is the future leader of Congress. Only one, who rises above all this and breaks the boundaries of caste and communalism will be the future leader of the country.Only then a society on the basis of equality can be built," Dwivedi said.

The forthright comments on such a sensitive issues by the otherwise reticent party general secretary have come at a time when the party is gearing up for the Lok Sabha polls.

Justifying his pitch for ending caste-based reservations, he said the situation has changed from the past and "now no person has the moral courage to publicly endorse casteism."

Dwivedi said that he came in politics through the youth movement in 1960s, whose main plank was to break the barriers of caste.

Asked whether reservations, which were meant to be temporary when first unveiled, should continue like they does now, Dwivedi said it is a "difficult and sensitive question".

The Congress leader, who maintains that his party should not have formed an alliance government in 2009 despite getting 206 seats as it had sought mandate for a Congress government, also appeared in disagreement with the concept of UPA III for 2014 saying, "Now in 2014 elections, let us be clear we will not do any compromise on principles."

He said Congress had sought support of people for party manifesto and party's Prime Ministerial candidate Manmohan Singh not forUPA II.

He also made it clear his statement made in an interview a few days back on the issue was not out of blue and that he was putting across this view point in party for a long time including even when UPA II was bring formed.

"Everyone should take lessons from history.It's not that I spoke about it for the first time.But there are certain decorums of party organisation. I am saying this in party since 2009.Now a new election is coming up.So it pertinent to look back and learn lessons from history.... Now when UPA III is being talked about, people should realise that Congress party has this courage.... Nobody should think that we have any compulsion," he said.

His remarks came in the backdrop some UPA allies like NCP and NC making remarks indicating that they intend to keep Congress on tenterhooks in an election year.

To a question as to whether getting 206 seats in 2009 Lok Sabha elections was not a mandate for Congress to move ahead to form a government, he said, "This is not called mandate.

Mandate is for a party what it gets" suggesting that Congress should have waited to get a majority on its own to form a government.

Skirting a question about the 2014 Lok Sabha polls gradually turning into a contest of personalities after BJP's projection of Narendra Modi and Congress handing over the election command to Rahul Gandhi,Dwivedi attacked the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate.

"There is no match between the personality ofthat person and the structure and the psyche of the country. This country is liberal," he said without naming Narendra Modi.

To questions about Congress' failure to project itselfin the contest vis a vis aggressive campaigning by Narendra Modi-led BJP,the party general secretary said that it is "not proper to draw a parallel between an individual and an organisation".

"Look at it as organisation versus organisation. The ideology of Congress is quite clear vis a vis that of the BJP.

There is another organisation behind that party. This (BJP) is running with the "invisible power" of that (RSS).People have seen in what limited and narrow limits, they carry out their work.

"Congress is a 128 year-old party. This is nature's law that sometimes some weakness will be there. Even in future, it is the Congress, which will emerge," he said in response to questions about Congress not being seen aggressively countering the BJP.

"It is very temporary thought to talk about strategy keeping in mind one elections. Congress has history and ideology. It has been in power many times.... One or two elections are not everything in history," he said.

Dwivedi said Congress has weakened only when it has lacked in pursuing its ideology and legacy and the country has always witnessed a clash between the narrow and the liberal ideologies.

Asked about Rahul Gandhi's Primaries experiment to elect candidates in elections with direct feedback from party workers, he said the idea behind the experiment is find out what kind of candidates local office bearers want as a number of times leaders decide candidates without getting the pulse of what party workers want at the grassroot.

"It's a positive initiative. May be there are also modifications in it at later stages," he said.

Asked about AICC Communication Department Chairman Ajay Maken's remarks that Rahul Gandhi wants to end the high command culture in candidate selection and appointment of office bearers and primaries are a beginning in this regard, Dwivedi said Maken's remarks do not mean that there will be no role for Congress President, Vice President, CWC or state bodies as no party can survive without a structure.

On his remarks that the emergence of AAP is a warning signal to major parties, he said it's not in isolation about one party but about the emergence of all regional parties of which AAP is the latest example.

He said such parties are not getting support of people due to any principle or ideology but because ofthe anger of people with the style of functioning of major parties.

Though AAP benefited by raising corruption issue and is indeed a challenge and warning for major parties, Arvind Kejriwal's party has no national outlook, he said.