At a time when quota is the buzz word in politics, senior Congress leader Janardan Dwivedi has called for an end to reservation on caste lines and urged party vice-president Rahul Gandhi to introduce quota for financially weaker sections bringing all communities under its ambit.
Mr. Dwivedi’s pitch to end caste-based reservation 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.
“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. He 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,” Mr. Dwivedi said.
The forthright comments on such a sensitive issue 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.”
Mr. 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 reservation, which was meant to be temporary when it was brought, should continue like it does now, Mr. 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 for UPA 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 decorum 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.