New Delhi: The Congress on Monday promised that a government led by it will conduct a nationwide caste census and implement 33 per cent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies at the earliest, including adequate representation for women belonging to the OBC community.
The party made the assertion in a resolution passed by the Congress Working Committee (CWC), chaired by party chief Mallikarjun Kharge and attended by former AICC presidents Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, senior leaders K C Venugopal, Jairam Ramesh and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, among others.
In its resolution, the CWC welcomed the Bihar government releasing the findings of a caste survey in the state.
The disparity between representation and share in population revealed by the final figures of the survey highlights the urgent need to take effective steps to ensure social justice, the CWC said.
It also welcomed the Justice Rohini Commission’s objective of sub-categorisation within the OBC community, but underlined that it will remain incomplete without detailed data on the socio-economic position of various communities, which can be obtained either from the still unreleased data from the 2011 socio-economic and caste census or a fresh caste census.
“These developments show the critical importance of a nationwide caste census, which will reveal an accurate picture of the socio-economic position of communities across the country and provide a sound, data-driven basis for policies to strengthen the foundations of social justice and ensure inclusive development,” the CWC said.
The resolution of the Congress’s top decision-making body alleged that the Narendra Modi government has “cheated” the OBC community and other deprived sections of the country by not releasing the data of the 2011 socio-economic and caste census and not carrying out a fresh caste census.
“It has also failed in its constitutional duty by inordinately postponing the decadal Census that ought to have been conducted in 2021 or soon thereafter. It is a matter of shame that India remains the only country in the G20 that has failed to carry out the Census,” the resolution said.
The demand for the caste census was repeatedly expressed in state after state by multiple delegations during the Bharat Jodo Yatra and finds voice in the Raipur declaration of the 85th Congress Plenary Session, the party noted.
Therefore, the Congress promised that a government led by it will conduct a nationwide caste sensus as part of the normal decadal census, which was due in 2021.
The party also pledged to implement 33 per cent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies at the earliest, ensuring adequate representation for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and OBCs.
The “unnecessary obstacles” the Modi government is bringing by linking women’s reservation to a census and a delimitation exercise will be removed, the party asserted.
It also promised to remove the 50-per cent cap through legislation for the reservation of OBCs, SCs and STs, in line with the commensurate share of population.
In an apparent reference to police raids against journalists associated with online portal NewsClick, the CWC condemned the Modi government’s similar action on dozens of journalists and writers, and the invocation of anti-terror laws against them.
“The conspiracy theories floated by the government only expose its own monumental hypocrisy in accepting donations from Chinese companies to the PM CARES Fund and investments from China’s government-owned companies, its inability to control the zooming imports from China and worst of all, the prime minister’s clean chit to China on 19th June, 2020, when he denied all Chinese transgressions at our border,” the CWC said.
It alleged that the Modi government has “escalated the misuse” of the law and unleashing of central agencies against those who ask questions and oppose its actions, including the leaders of the opposition parties across the country.
“Such coercive and illegal action cripples the free press, hinders the fundamental rights of citizens, journalists and politicians to hold the government accountable, and lowers India’s standing in the world as a democracy. The prime minister and the BJP have degraded the political discourse to such a level that official posters are being made to incite and provoke violence against former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, similar to the one commissioned by Nathuram Godse against Mahatma Gandhi and senior Congress leaders of the freedom movement,” the resolution said.
The CWC also expressed its deep anguish on the collapse of the constitutional government and the continuing humanitarian tragedy in Manipur.
“Even after more than five months, the prime minister has totally abandoned the people of Manipur and abdicated his constitutional responsibilities. Violent incidents have increased with numerous instances of vigilantism and threats by armed mobs,” it alleged.
The Union government has completely “failed” in its duty to maintain public order and bridge the divisions between communities in the northeastern state, the party said.
“The constitutional machinery in Manipur has broken down. The CWC reiterates its previous demand for the immediate removal of the chief minister and imposition of President’s Rule as the first step in resolving the unprecedented crisis in Manipur,” the resolution said.
Noting with “concern” the recent Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data, which shows that net financial assets of Indian households in 2022-23 had fallen to 5.1 per cent, which is a nearly-five-decade low, the party said due to stagnant wages, high inflation and widespread unemployment, millions of Indian families are forced into borrowing money for their consumption needs.
The CWC believes that the dismal situation is the result of the Modi government’s anti-people, pro-crony economic policies, which have resulted in the concentration of wealth and power in a few hands in every sector of the economy, the resolution said.
The CWC expressed its deepest condolences to the people of Sikkim and the Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong hills for the unprecedented floods and the resultant tragic loss of lives, including those of armed forces personnel.
Alleging that there is a “threat” to democracy and mounting social, political and economic crises, the party said the only solution within the power of the people is to remove the anti-people BJP governments from power, both from states and the Centre.
“To achieve this objective, the CWC resolves to call upon all its members and supporters to fight the upcoming elections to state legislative assemblies and the Lok Sabha with a unity of purpose, dedication and determination,” the resolution said.