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Committed to secularism, will enact 'Rohith Vemula Act' if voted: Congress

The Congress on Sunday promised to bring in a special legislation called the "Rohith Vemula Act" to redress the discrimination faced by students from SC, ST, and OBC

Rohith Vemula

Rohith Vemula

Press Trust of India Nava Raipur
The Congress on Sunday promised to bring in a special legislation called the "Rohith Vemula Act" to redress the discrimination faced by students from SC, ST, OBC and minority communities in educational institutions, and asserted that it shall commit to secularism in letter and spirit and will be at the forefront to protect the rights of minorities.
In its social justice and empowerment resolution passed at its 85th plenary session, the Congress committed to conduct a socio-economic caste census along with the decennial census.
The party said it has advocated reservations for economically weaker sections (EWS) of the society but the BJP's policy on EWS quota has excluded even the poor SCs, STs and OBCs from availing benefits under EWS quota.
The Congress said it considers poor belonging to all communities to be economically weaker and therefore poor SCs, STs and OBCs cannot be excluded from the EWS quota.
"Congress party would ensure that economically weaker section category students are given age relaxation on par with the age relaxation given to SCs and STs for entering into government services, the resolution said.
Reiterating its demand for a caste census, the Congress alleged in its resolution that the BJP has consistently refused to conduct the caste census which would be crucial to revising the benchmark for socio-economic and educational backwardness.
"Indian National Congress commits to conduct a socio-economic caste census along with the decennial census. The caste census shall also enumerate de-notified tribes and nomadic tribes, the resolution said.
The Congress also committed to creating a dedicated ministry for the empowerment of the OBCs, saying it will focus on expanding educational and employment opportunities of OBCs and provision of civic amenities in their habitations.
The slew of promises and reservations in internal party organisation for the SCs, STs, OBCs and minorities is seen by many political observers as the Congress' attempt to re-establish and strengthen its support base among the marginalised sections of the society which has eroded in the last few years.
Noting that the National Commission for Minorities plays an important role in protecting the rights and livelihoods of Minorities, the Congress said it is committed to according constitutional status to panel to endow it with powers to serve the community better.
The Congress also committed to implementing special welfare scheme for minority welfare based on the recommendations of the Sachar committee.
The Multi-Sectoral Development Programme (MSDP) and the 15-point programme for minorities as enunciated by Indira Gandhi, reformulated by Rajiv Gandhi and effectively implemented by Manmohan Singh shall be implemented in full, the party resolution said.
The party also said it is committed to giving constitutional status to the National Commission for Women to enhance its effectiveness.
"Congress party shall commit to secularism in letter and spirit and would be in the forefront to protect the rights of minorities, the resolution said.
Hitting out at the BJP, the Congress said the promise of "Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas" by the BJP has proved beyond doubt that it is nothing but a massive act of deception.
Mob lynching particularly against minorities, atrocities against SCs and STs and violence against women have touched record highs in the last nine years. The sense of insecurity and agony among these communities/groups is extremely high because they are being continuously targeted with hate and gruesome violence by the BJP-RSS and their affiliates, the party alleged in its resolution.
The Congress party committed to further strengthening the legal mechanism for ensuring protection of rights of these communities.
The Congress said it shall be vigilant and strive relentlessly for delivering justice to the victims of atrocities by ensuring the effective implementation of the SC and ST (Preventions of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
"To redress the discrimination faced by the students from SC, ST, OBC and minority communities in educational institutions, the Congress party commits to enact a special Act called the Rohith Vemula Act to protect and safeguard their right to education and dignity, the resolution said.
Vemula, a research scholar of the University of Hyderabad, allegedly hanged himself in a hostel room in 2016.
The death of the 26-year-old Dalit student on January 17, 2016 triggered a nationwide agitation against casteism in institutions of higher learning.
The Congress also promised to set up a National Council for Social Justice on the lines of National Development Council, which it said would not only review the progress and gaps in implementing India's social justice policies and legislations but also tangibly safeguard, strengthen and defend the rights and entitlements meant for SCs, STs, OBC, and minorities throughout India.
The council will also undertake surveys across the country to study inequalities and comprehensively map the socio-economic and political status of these sections in India and publish a state of social justice report, along the lines of the National Economic Survey, a day before the Budget is presented every year, the resolution said.
To ensure that the judiciary is reflective of the social diversity of India, the Congress said it shall consider reservations for SCs-STs-OBCs in the higher judiciary.
The Congress also promised a national legislation to make ensure that a portion of the Union budget is earmarked in proportion to the population of SCs and STs in the country, to foster their sustainable development and to bring them on par with rest of the society.
The Congress also asserted that it committed to completely eradicate manual scavenging.
Noting that India has witnessed ordeals experienced by millions of migrant workers during the period of COVID-19 pandemic, the party alleged that their utter neglect by the BJP Government forced them to walk, long distances which is still fresh in our minds.
Congress believes it is time to pass a legislation to guarantee the right to work in urban areas that provides work on demand to urban poor, particularly inter and intra state migrants, unorganized casual workers and the homeless, the resolution said.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Feb 26 2023 | 10:49 PM IST

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