The stage is all ready for the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections as the Election Commission of India announced the dates for the upcoming assembly polls to be held in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, and Mizoram. The polls will be held between November 7 and 30. The results of the five assembly elections will be declared on 3rd December. And will set the agenda for the parliamentary elections of 2024 addition to INDIA bloc’s demands for caste census, OBC quota in women reservation, as well as BJP-driven Hindutva. On its side, BJP has planned its poll strategy to ride a wave sentiments in the wake of the inauguration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya in January 2024, along with the illuminating temples all over India. Moreover, the BJP aim is to reap the benefits of wooing women as a big constituency. On the other side, the INDIA bloc leaders like Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Rahul Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge are demanding nationwide caste census to better evaluate the situation of India’s Dalits, OBCs, poor and advocating OBC quota in women reservation. Nitish Kumar-led Bihar caste census released on October 2 has the Bihar CM as the champion of marginalized communities. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has coined a new phrase – “Jitni Abadi, utna haq” – to discuss issues related to caste. Rahul said that the Congress-ruled states of Rajasthan, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, and Himachal Pradesh will hold caste census in their respective states. Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge said that a nationwide caste census is important to meet out social justice and rights to Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and OBCs in accordance with their population. Kharge asserted that without proper socio-economic data on the weaker sections of the society, it is difficult to provide social justice to them. Clearly, it signals that the passing of the Women’s Reservation Bill in Parliament and publication of caste census by Bihar are likely to set the narrative for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. With the upper castes firmly with the BJP and the Muslims firmly against it, the swing votes are of OBC, EBC and Dalit communities.
EYE ON 2024 POLLS, CONGRESS WOOS DALITS WITH RENEWED VIGOUR
Ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Congress is framing renewed efforts to woo the Dalits, the most backward classes and other downtrodden sections. In this context, the Uttar Pradesh unit of the Congress on 9th October launched its Dalit outreach campaign “Dalit Gaurav Samvad” on the occasion of BSP founded Kanshi Ram’s death anniversary. The nearly two-month-long campaign, which will end on November 26, is focussed at knowing the demands and aspirations of the Dalit community through “Dalit Adhikar Mang Patra”. The party plans to hold 4,000 night chaupals (10 in every Assembly segment), 10 yatras at the divisional level, and at least 80 big dialogues (one in each Lok Sabha constituency) as part of the campaign aimed at holding direct dialogues with at least one lakh prominent Dalit personalities. The party will try to figure out the main demands of the Dalit community by ascertaining the filling up of some two lakh Dalit rights demand forms and to ensure that these get filled in the entire state without fail. While senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had also coined a slogan, ‘Jitni Abadi Utna Haq’ (rights proportional to the population size) when he campaigned in the Karnataka Assembly elections.
INDIA BLOC WOMEN LEADERS TO PARTICIPATE IN BIG SHOW OF STRENGTH
In another show of strength by I.N.D.I.A. bloc, Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti and Nationalist Congress Party working president Supriya Sule and Subashini Ali and Annie Raja from CPI(M) and CPI are among some of the women leaders from the INDIA bloc who will attend a women’s rights conference organised by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) on October 14. The event is aimed to be a reflection of the centenary birth celebrations of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and late DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi. This is the first time that women leaders of the alliance will meet in Tamil Nadu after a majority of the opposition parties came together to form I.N.D.I.A. While the presence of Sonia Gandhi at the event seems to take up a strong and powerful message and a prominent signal that all Opposition political parties are united in taking on the BJP.
BIHAR CM NITISH KUMAR TO REVISIT RESERVATION IN LIGHT OF CASTE CENSUS
Ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has hinted about his plans to revisit the reservation system in the state in the light of the recent publication of a caste-based survey report. He announced that he would go ahead after tabling all the details of the state’s caste survey inclusive of the educational and socio-economic data of the survey in the Assembly during the winter session which is likely to begin in December. The survey pegs Bihar’s population at 13.07 crore with 36.02 per cent extremely backward castes (EBC), 27.13 per cent other backward castes (OBC), 19.65 per cent Scheduled Castes (SC), 15.52 per cent general category castes and 1.68 per cent Scheduled Tribes (ST). According to sources said that the Bihar government has long been planning various types of affirmative action and could raise the 50 per cent threshold of reservation for the SC, ST, EBC and OBC in the state. Bihar also provides for 10 per cent reservation for economically weaker sections among the general category castes. On the other hand RJD has taken a hard line on the issue of increasing the quota for BCs and EBCs, insisting that with the Supreme Court’s 50% cap on reservations having been lifted, in effect with the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quotas, besides all social groups be given a share in proportion to their respective population in the state.
RAHUL USES PRESS CONFERENCE ON CASTE CENSUS TO UNDERSCORE ITS NEED
At a press conference held at the Congress headquarters in Delhi, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi raised queries about caste diversity to the media personals attended the press conference. He cited the somewhat tepid response from the reporters in attendance as a rationale for the party’s advocacy for a nationwide caste census. He said: “Let me ask you here. How many Dalits are in this room? Dekhiye; ye maza dekhiye. How many OBCs are in this room? Raise your hands.” There were reportedly no hands raised among the journalists. Rahul Gandhi said, “I am talking about these people.” “So this is the question. How many Dalits, OBCs and tribals are in India’s institutions? That is the question we are asking about institutions, wealth, assets and population,” Gandhi said, justifying his party’s demand for the caste census. Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi expressed that the majority of the coalition partners within the INDIA alliance are likely to endorse the notion of a caste census. He emphasized that the decision to carry out a caste census is neither politically backed nor motivated one but it is purely a measure taken to advance social justice. (IPA Service)