Saturday, Sep 23, 2023 07:15 [IST]
Last Update: Saturday, Sep 23, 2023 01:46 [IST]
NEW DELHI, (IANS): Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday expressed his "regrets" that OBC quota was not provided under the Women’s Reservation Bill that United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had brought in 2010.
Though the bill is a "good thing", it is a distraction and diversion tactic from the demand of caste census, he added.
"Yes, 100 per cent I regret that. This should have been done then. We will get this done..," Rahul Gandhi rued when asked if he holds any regrets on the decision made by the Congress-led UPA alliance government 13 years ago.
The demand for a quota within a quota for OBC women was made by the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal in 2010, when the UPA government had tabled its version of the bill in Parliament. The Congress had then rejected the demand which led to the SP and RJD withdrawing their support.
The bill, which had already cleared the Rajya Sabha in 2010 then, never made it to the Lok Sabha.
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters here, Rahul Gandhi trained his guns at the government over the delay in implementing the Women’s Reservation Bill by citing delimitation and census as reasons to defer it is a ‘diversionary tactic’ and a way to move everyone’s attention away from caste census’.
The Congress Lok Sabha MP from Kerala’s Wayanad said, "Few days ago, the Special Session of Parliament was announced and with a lot of fanfare we shifted from the old Parliament to the new Parliament building."
"We were not aware of what was the main focus of the session. The Women's Reservation Bill is great but we received two footnotes that census and delimitation need to be done before that. Both of these will take years. The truth is that the reservation can be implemented today...This is not a complicated matter but the government doesn't want to do that," the Congress leader said.
"Government has presented this before the country but it will be implemented 10 years from now. Nobody knows if this will even be implemented. This is a distraction tactic, diversion tactic," Rahul Gandhi said, hitting back at the government.
Rahul Gandhi said that he spoke about one institution in Parliament and an officer who runs the government -- cabinet secretary and secretary.
"If Prime Minister Narendra Modi works a lot for OBC then out of 90, only three are from the OBC community, why? I did an analysis from the budget.
How much budget they control, OBC, tribal and Dalits. OBC officers control only 5 per cent of the budget," he said.
Taking a pot shot at the government, he said, "He talks about OBC and their pride. When I spoke, his response was interesting. They said in the Lok Sabha we have our representation. Is the OBC population only 5 per cent?. If it is true I am accepting and if not true I will find it out."
He also said, "Lok Sabha is called the temple of democracy, whether they take any decision, do they participate in making laws, the answer is no”.
"MPs are like statues in temples and they don't have any power and they have no role to play in running the government," he alleged.
Rahul Gandhi also said that the youth of the OBC community needs to understand the same.
"The census and delimitation should be removed. Women should get their rights," Rahul Gandhi demanded, adding that caste census data should be
made public which was carried by us.
"Also do a caste census. The Prime Minister needs to explain to the 90 officers of India and why only three are OBCs," he added.
He also said that it is a fact that a very large mass of India does not hold power.
To a question if he would be willing to provide quota within quota, the Congress leader said, “We have to go step by step…the first step is X-Ray of India which is caste census - to understand the data for a proper decision….first keep the data on the table, then, I will answer how the Congress will deal with this.”
He also emphasised that to be able to distribute the power fairly among the common people, we need data.
“…Why is the Prime Minister not releasing the earlier data and why is there a delay in conducting the Census? The Prime Minister hails himself as an
OBC leader, then why only 3 secretaries are OBCs?” he asked.
To another question about the poor representation of the marginalised communities during the Congress-led UPA government, he said, “It was bad
then also, it is bad now too ... .we need to change this to give power to the poor."
He also asserted that the BJP cannot fool the women through their tactics and that implementing a bill 10 years from now, means “nothing.”
His remarks came a day after the Parliament passed the women's reservation bill after 214 lawmakers present in the Rajya Sabha voted in its favour.
Following the passage of the bill, even Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked the MPs for supporting the legislation and said it is a ‘defining moment’ in India’s history.
The 128th Constitution amendment bill, referred to as the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, will now require the approval of a majority of state assemblies.
It will be implemented after a delimitation exercise to redraw parliamentary and assembly constituencies based on a census which the government has said will be commissioned next year.
The Congress and the other opposition parties have been critical of the government for including the census and delimitation clause for the implementation of the Bill.