Congress leader Anand Sharma questions party’s stance on caste census

Congress leader Anand Sharma questions party’s stance on caste census

File picture of Congress leader Anand Sharma
| Photo Credit: PTI

Congress Working Committee (CWC) member Anand Sharma has written to party president Mallikarjun Kharge to question the party’s stance on the caste census. Mr. Sharma has said the party’s recent emphasis on caste contradicts the position taken by former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.

The letter, written on March 19, was sent to all CWC members, leaders of the Congress Legislature Party and Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chiefs.

The letter has gone public on a day when the top leadership of the Congress including party president Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of making a systematic effort to cripple the principal opposition party financially.

Rahul Gandhi on March 9 had emphasised his party’s resolve to conduct a caste census if voted to power, asserting that based on this right step along with economic mapping, the 50% cap on reservation would be “uprooted”.

In his letter, Mr. Sharma writes that “though caste is a reality of Indian society, Congress has never engaged in nor endorsed identity politics”.

“National Caste Census… has been endorsed by India Alliance led by Congress. Parties of the alliance, also include those which have pursued caste-based politics for long. However, the Congress policy on social justice is based on a mature and informed understanding of the complexities of Indian society,” he writes.

“Though caste is a reality of Indian society, Congress has never engaged in nor endorsed identity politics. That is detrimental to democracy in a society with a rich diversity of region, religion, caste and ethnicity.”

Mr. Sharma goes on to say that a caste census “cannot be a panacea nor a solution for unemployment and prevailing inequalities” and said that the current stance would disrespect the views of former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.

“A fundamental departure from time-honoured policy on this critical and sensitive subject has major long-term national implications.

“As a party with inclusive approach, the Congress should strive to reclaim its role as builder of national consensus and build a harmonious society. The articulation of Party position should be balanced and eschew the radical posturing of regional and caste based organisations,” he said.

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