UP: Congress Intensifies Efforts for OBC Reservation and Caste Census, Organises Several Conventions
Representational Image. Image Courtesy: PTI
Lucknow: The slogan "Jiski jitni bhagidari, uski utni hissedari (Share proportional to participation)," raised by the Uttar Pradesh unit of the Congress pointed to the intensified demand for reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and a caste-based census in the state ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
The party kicked off a convention — Pichda Varg Mandaliya Sammelan – from Western Uttar Pradesh's Meerut district on Wednesday, and it will be held subsequently in all the divisions of the state. The outline of district-wise movements will be organised for caste census and increasing OBC quota. Division-wise responsibilities of leaders were also decided in the conference, who will decide the roadmap to struggle from the road to house to increase caste census and reservation.
The party has already gone to several districts in the past four months to garner support on the issue and has received an overwhelming response. Meetings were held in Muzaffarnagar, Mau, Deoria, Allahabad, Kanpur, Lucknow, and many other places.
“We have intensified our fight for the cause of the OBCs, and for this, we need a caste census. Our high command has already spoken in favour of a caste census. The Congress’s social justice policy won the people’s support in Karnataka, and we will win the battle in UP as well,” Uttar Pradesh Congress spokesperson Abhimanyu Tyagi said.
Tyagi further said: "This time there will be a street struggle for caste census and increasing OBC reservation, not like other political parties pushing the narrative only on social media platforms and fooling the OBC community."
The conference passed resolutions stressing that for true social justice, a caste census is needed to understand the population's composition. To strengthen democracy, it was argued that the 50% reservation limit should be removed, ensuring that backward castes get reservations based on their population. They also proposed increasing reservations for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in proportion to the overall population. Additionally, they suggested categorising the backward class into backward, most backward, and the most backward classes based on socio-economic status.
The UP Congress unit has also launched a campaign under which the party cadres will visit villages and cities and reach out to OBC voters.
Congress leader Imran Pratapgarhi said that the party will soon launch a yatra from Ghazipur to Ghaziabad, in which former party president Rahul Gandhi will also participate.
He added that the Congress will also hold many conferences for the welfare of minorities, in which there will also be 'Bunkar Sammelan' or weavers' conferences. The first such gathering will be held in November in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's parliamentary constituency Varanasi - a hub of weavers. There will be 100 weavers' conferences across the country. Along with this, many meetings will be held in the district headquarters and Lok Sabha constituencies through 'Bharat Jodo Sammelan,' in which active participation of workers up to the booth level will be ensured, according to him.
Meanwhile, the Samajwadi Party (SP), the principal opposition party in Uttar Pradesh, has also called for a reservation for the ‘PDA’ — Pichhde (backward classes), dalit (oppressed), and ‘Alpsankhyak (minorities) within the existing reservation.
SP president and former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has expressed his belief that this approach will be a robust counter to the BJP in Uttar Pradesh in the 2024 general election, strengthen the party, and ensure its achievements reach people and translate into votes.
According to the estimated figure of caste equations in Uttar Pradesh, there are 52% backward class, general class, and dalit vote bank, making up almost 48%.
In UP, approximately 22% of voters are Dalits, and the estimated percentage of upper-caste voters is 18%. Additionally, Muslim voters significantly influence several seats in UP politics, constituting around 19.2% of the electorate.
In Uttar Pradesh, backward castes have always played the role of kingmakers. Approximately 52% of the population in the state belongs to the OBC category, with about 8 to 10% being Yadavs, 6% to 7% Lodhis, and another 6% to 7% Kurmis.
Communities such as Nishad, Bind, Kashyap, Rajbhar, Chauhan, and Maurya make up approximately 5%. Additionally, 48% of the population falls under the general category, including 12% Brahmins, 6% Thakurs, and 4% Vaishyas.
SP-Congress Shadow-Boxing on Over Seat Sharing
Amid the intense war of words between the Samajwadi Party and Congress, a tug of war has started over seat sharing.
If sources are to be believed, SP is adamant about not leaving more than five to six constituencies for Congress, but the latter is expecting at least two dozen seats.
SP president Akhilesh Yadav, responding to a query by reporters on how many seats his party was asking for in UP from the INDIA alliance for the 2024 polls, said: “We are not asking for seats. The Samajwadi Party is giving seats to its alliance partners.”
However, Congress state president Ajay Rai said, "Congress is capable enough to contest all 80 seats on its own."
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