New Delhi: Caste census and poll strategies are set to dominate the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting here on Monday, with Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram set to be announced soon.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, former party chiefs Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, the chief ministers of all the Congress-ruled states and the top party brass will deliberate on election preparedness and narratives across the poll-bound states at length, besides holding extensive discussions on the party’s firm pitch for a nationwide caste census and its implications.
There are concerns within the Congress with respect to the articulation of the party’s demand for the caste census, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently accusing the grand old party of attempting to divide Hindus through its push for the Other Backward Classes (OBC).
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi, who is also a regular CWC member, raised concerns recently over Rahul Gandhi’s “jitni abaadi, utna haq” (rights proportionate to population) slogan, arguing that it amounts to an endorsement of majoritarianism.
Although Singhvi quickly deleted his controversial post on X after the Congress distanced itself from his remarks, concerns remain among a section of the party as to the articulation of the politically-sensitive call for the caste census.
Meanwhile, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre has escalated its attacks on the Congress, saying the party has never been in favour of a caste census with late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi opposing the Mandal Commission in Parliament.
The Congress has taken a principled stand to push for the caste census in order to counter the BJP’s Hindutva agenda.
After Bihar released the findings of a caste census in the state, Congress-ruled Rajasthan issued orders on Saturday for holding a similar exercise.
In Chhattisgarh too, the Congress has announced that it will conduct a caste census if elected to power again.
Congress-ruled Karnataka has already announced the census and is likely to come out with its results later this year.
On the agenda at Monday’s CWC meet is firming up the party’s strategy in the five poll-bound states.
The Congress is seeking to retain its governments in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan and hoping to wrest power from the BJP in Madhya Pradesh, Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) in Telangana and Mizo National Front (MNF) in Mizoram.
The CWC meet comes at a time when some opposition leaders are facing heat from central agencies and the latest in a series of arrests is of Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Sanjay Singh in the Delhi excise policy case.
The Congress has condemned Singh’s arrest but also pointed to similar action against its leaders in Punjab at the hands of the AAP government there, the latest being the arrest of its farmers’ wing head Sukhpal Khaira in a drugs-related case.
The meeting of the top decision-making body of the Congress comes just over three weeks after the first meeting of the reconstituted CWC in Hyderabad on September 16 to evolve a strategy for the Assembly polls in the five states and the 2024 Lok Sabha election.
The chief ministers of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh, besides the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leaders in the five poll-bound states, will attend the CWC meet.
The CWC has 39 regular members, 32 permanent invitees and 13 special invitees, including 15 women and several new faces.