The Congress is likely to reject Jitin Prasada’s proposal to “revisit Mandal politics”. Party sources said the “timing” of the idea could not be more inappropriate, coming on the eve of Bihar elections and amid the Patidar quota row in Gujarat.
While Prasada told The Indian Express that his letter on the issue was hand-delivered to AICC general secretary Madhusudan Mistry, the latter said he had not received the letter yet.
In a veiled reference to Yadavs and Kurmis, Prasada, in his letter, has said that they have got more benefits than their actual demographic strength.
He has instead proposed that the “poor among the general castes have to be brought into the ambit of reservation.”
Stating that the poor suffer “the same fate as the weaker backwards”, Prasada has said: “There seems to be a growing alienation among the upper caste poor who feel that no party represents their concerns and anxieties. Articulating and addressing these concerns will not only be crucial for Congress revival in Uttar Pradesh but would be essential to resurrect the declining legitimacy of the social justice regime.”
While he does not name Yadavs, Prasada has said: “Unfortunately, almost 25 years down the line, what we observe is a huge power hiatus between some dominant backward castes in Uttar Pradesh who successfully leveraged their favourable economic position, especially in terms of land holding, to totally monopolise the political space thrown open by the Mandal revolution.”
Appealing for a “relook at the backward reservation policy”, Prasada has said: “This is the only relevant political plank for the party’s revival in a political market cramped with ossified ideas revolving around caste and religion. If the Congress is to break fresh political ground for itself in UP, it can only do so by carving up a social block based on progressive and innovative branding of the social justice system.”
When contacted, Mistry, the party’s UP in-charge, said: “I was away in UP. So far, I have not received any such letter at home.”
Asked if the party was likely to take up the issue at its meeting in Mathura on September 21, he said: “What I have seen in Delhi and elsewhere is that the economic criteria for reservation will hurt marginal and backward people. There is a hidden discrimination in Indian society. When Dalits and OBC candidates are there along with Brahmin and Baniyas on any panel, they get discriminated against. Who will ensure that economic criteria will be implemented without age-old prejudices?”