Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma Thursday announced the formation of a parallel wing within the Congress — “Dalit, Pichhda, Alpasankhyak Manch” — claiming that the need was felt as the party’s efforts to bring together Dalits, Backwards and Minorities were “slow” and “not enough”. He was talking to the mediapersons in Lucknow.
Surprisingly, senior party leaders, including AICC general secretary and UP in-charge Madhusudan Mistry as well as UPCC president Nirmal Khatri, said they have no knowledge about the formation of any such ‘Manch’.
Beni claimed the wing would hold programmes and conventions at district and divisional level across the state till the time Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi would start touring the state. He said the first convention of the Manch would be held in Lucknow on January 11.
“Modi is holding rallies but we are sitting quietly. I had asked Rahul Gandhi to come and address a meeting here in Lucknow. My request is under consideration. Thus, till the time Rahul gives us time, we have decided to hold conventions at district and divisional level through this Manch,” said Beni.
He further claimed “Rahul Gandhi is mature enough to become Prime Minister and Priyanka Gandhi was ready to assist him”.
Asked if the Manch was a parallel outfit within the Congress, he said, “Do not consider it a parallel wing. Congress has done many things for empowerment of Dalits, Minorities and OBCs, but the speed is slow. All three want to vote for the Congress but other parties do not allow them to come together.”
He said “Modi, Mulayam and Mayawati” were trying to drive a wedge between these communities for their own good.
Both AICC general secretary Madhusudan Mistry and Congress state president Nirmal Khatri, however, said: “We have no knowledge of any such Manch.”
This, when Beni said he has selected leaders from the Congress to head and run the Manch. He said that while Raj Bahadur has been made the president, D K Anand is its chairman and Masood Ahmad has been made the convener of the Manch . “I would only be the chief guest during its programmes,” he said.
Bahadur and Ahmad are founding members of the BSP, who joined the Congress before the 2012 Assembly elections. Youth Congress leader Gaurav Chaudhary has been given charge to attract youth of the three communities towards the Manch.
Posters of the Manch’s programmes with photographs of Beni, Rahul and other office-bearers have come up near the Congress office.
Budget earmarked Rs 3.40 crore for the Nirbhaya Fund, to be used for the upkeep of security of women.