Bhopal: Carrying forward its promises made in the previous elections for the Other Backward Class (OBC), the Congress has added nearly a dozen more assurances for the community which consists of over 50 per cent in Madhya Pradesh.
The grand old party has fielded 62 candidates the OBC community, which is out of 82 out of total 230 seats reserved for the Scheduled Caste the Scheduled Tribes.
Congress leadership, including AICC President Mallikarjun Kharge, former President Rahul Gandhi and General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi, has promised caste census, if the party is voted to power in Madhya Pradesh.
The party has ‘walked the talk’ by fielding 42 per cent OBC candidates for the election scheduled for November 17.
Of the 148 seats non-reserved, the party has given tickets to upper castes, Rajputs and Brahmins in 80 seats while two tickets have also been given to the Muslims.
In 2018, Congress had given 74 tickets to the upper castes and 60 tickets were given to OBC.
The Congress leadership, especially Rahul Gandhi, has consistently laid emphasis on caste census and also underlining the insignificant number of posts OBC members are occupying at the highest positions in the government machinery.
The state Congress has even denied tickets to its old-timers belonging to the general castes in an attempt to consolidate the OBCs and also to diminish the BJP’s Hindutva card, which has become the cornerstone of the BJP’s politics, along with deep penetration into the non-dominant OBC castes.
In its manifesto for 2023 assembly elections, the Congress has devoted several pages to backward classes, promised implementation of their rights and to set up an Equal Opportunities Commission to prepare a programme for their overall development.
The manifesto said that along with the survey on social and economic conditions, the proposed caste census will provide accurate figures and help the party fix a new quota limit, while following the court orders.
While focusing on castes, the party has not lost sight of farmers who are believed to have voted in large numbers for it in 2018 election when it had promised to waive loans up to Rs 2 lakh. Though the BJP accused Congress of not keeping the loan waiver promise, the Congress maintains that as many as 27 lakh farmers benefited from it.
The party has decided to continue Jay Kisan Fasal Rin Mafi Yojana as well. Farmers have also been promised loans at zero per cent rate of interest. Besides Rs 25 lakh health insurance and Rs 10 lakh accident cover for the entire family, farmers aged 65 and above will be entitled to social security pension.
It has promised appointments and nominations of OBCs to the constitutional bodies in proportion to the reservation, and also in government departments, government-aided institutions and contractual appointments.
The party said it was committed on protecting the human rights of the backward classes, and will send a proposal to the central government to include OBC reservation in the 9th Schedule of the Constitution.