Playing the caste card to the hilt with the first phase of Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh due on April 10, 2014, the Samajwadi Party is now trying to woo the Upper Castes, in addition to its efforts to appease the Most Backward Castes (MBCs) and the Dalits. In its manifesto for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, released by party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav in Lucknow on Wednesday, the SP has promised to constitute an Upper Caste Commission for overseeing cases of injustice to the poor among the Forward Castes, if the party comes to power at the Centre.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, senior Minister Mohammad Azam Khan and national general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav were present in the manifesto release function held at the SP headquarters.
The Upper Caste Commission will be on the lines of the Backward Classes Commission, National SC Commission, the Scheduled Tribe Commission and the Minorities panel, the 24-page document stated.
By making an effort to woo the poor among Upper Castes, the Samajwadi Party seems to have taken a leaf out of Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati’s book. The BSP’s Sarvjan Hitaye Sarvjan Sukhaye theme song too aims to woo the Upper Castes.
Reiterating its stand on the inclusion of the 17 MBCs in the list of Scheduled Castes, the Samajwadi Party said these castes would be included in the SCs. Dalit Christians and Dalits Muslims would also be accorded SC status. While the retirement age for government employees, High Court and lower court judges, teachers and employees of educational institutions would be raised to 65 years from the present 62 years, reservation in jobs would be introduced in the private sector.
Even as the party favoured job reservation in private sector and said small and cottage industries would be set up for creating job opportunities, it added that the jobless youth will be given unemployment allowance till they get jobs.
The Samajwadi Party supported reservation for Muslims in jobs in accordance with their population and on coming to power would make the requisite amendments to the Constitution, the manifesto says. Reservation for SC, ST and Backward Castes in government and non-government jobs would be ensured.
More importantly, the party has promised to make education free. This would be possible by increasing the budgetary allocation under education. “The SP government would ensure that at least seven percent of the annual budget is spent on education”, the manifesto stated.
Besides, the party, if voted to power at the Centre, would work towards framing a stringent law against communal violence and will endeavour to secure justice for victims of the communal violence in Gujarat in 2002 and the implementation of the Shri Krishna Commission report. Chapters with a distinct communal tinge would be removed from school books. “Innocent Muslims” jailed on “fake terror charges” would be released, the party manifesto said.
Releasing the election manifesto, Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav said there were poor among the Upper Castes and the proposed Upper Caste Commission will be constituted specifically for ensuring justice to the poor and deprived sections among the Upper Castes. Mentioning the key aspects of the manifesto, the SP chief told reporters that priority would be given to agriculture and farm development. Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav said the Indian economy is based on agriculture but farming activities have languished in the country. He blamed the Congress-led UPA Government for the decline in the farm sector.
As regards the country’s foreign policy, Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav said the SP Government will work towards improving relations with India’s neighbours and the policy would be framed in the sense that country is able to win friends. Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav said steps would be taken to stop the misuse of SC/ST Act and Anti-Dowry Act.
In its manifesto, the SP has made it clear that after the Lok Sabha polls it would form an alliance with like-minded parties, which would be based on a “common programme”.