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Congress coy on credit over quota
June 04, 2006 22:34 IST
The decision on the Other Backward Classes quota in elite educational institutions has thrown up a strange situation for the Congress.
Though it is one of the most important decisions of the party-led coalition, the Congress is shying away from taking responsibility while United Progressive Alliance constituents like Pattali Makkal Katchi and Dravida Munnethra Kazhagam are running away with the honours.
The move triggered by certain statements of Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh in the midst of the recent assembly polls found the party divided while the likes of the Dravidian parties were quick to make political capital ahead of the Tamil Nadu poll battle.
Rashtriya Janata Dal President Lalu Prasad also used the opportunity to extend the upper castes.
The Congress appears to be caught in a serious dilemma on taking credit for the move amid apprehensions that it would lead to a backlash from people belonging to upper castes.
There was also the belief that the backward castes were not the political constituency of the party and were only that of Lalu Prasad, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Nitish Kumar and others in the erstwhile Janata Parivar.
Party Chief Sonia Gandhi has not spoatter gained centrestage inspite of her addressing a Congress Parliamentary Party meeting, presiding over a CWC meet and inaugurating a national conference on the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme.
A section of the party, including some OBC leaders, feel that the Congress should give up this dilemma for its own good as it would not be politically wise to allow parties like DMK, PMK and RJD to run away with the credit.
This section says that it would be a big mistake of the party if it failed to project itself as the main author of step to "uplift" the weaker sections and remained worried over the "backlash".
This section says that Arjun Singh might have utilised the issue for his personal agenda but the Congress should now go the full length to reap the political benefit out of the measure. Otherwise it would fall between two stools, the
It says that the party should say that the middle path propounded by Rahul Gandhi was the Congress' own answer to
This section says that failure of the party to take advantage of the inevitable situation on the quota issue would
But other sections in the party, including some leaders from the upper castes, say that what was needed for the party
Its contention is that the backward castes had never been the political constituency of the Congress and, therefore, the
"We should ensure that our support base in the general category is not antagonised by our moves", is the refrain of this section.
This section argues that majority of OBCs have remained aligned with forces of anti-Congressism which first came to power in several states in the north in 1967 as Sanyukt Vidhyak Dal governments.