The Congress is also mulling setting an age limit of 70 for party leaders, and has appealed to them to step aside for new leadership.

Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and KC Venugopal at the Nav Sankalp Chintan Shivir
news Politics Sunday, May 15, 2022 - 10:43

The Congress is set to provide 50% representation to those from Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), Other Backward Classes (OBC) and minority communities at all levels in the party organisation, as part of its "social engineering" efforts to win back the confidence of these communities. In a change in stance on "quota within quota" in the women's reservation Bill, the party is likely to demand that out of the reservation for women in Lok Sabha and legislative assemblies, there should be proportionate reservation for women from SC, ST and OBC communities.

Addressing a media briefing on the deliberations of the panel on social justice and empowerment formed by party chief Sonia Gandhi to lead discussions on this issue at the Congress' three-day 'Nav Sankalp Chintan Shivir', senior leader and Union minister Salman Khurshid said establishing a social justice advisory council to the Congress president has also been recommended by the panel. There will be an attached department that will collect data for "social engineering" and will make it available for Pradesh Congress Committees (PCCs) and other party units, said Khurshid, who is the convenor of the panel on social justice and empowerment.

K Raju, a panel member and coordinator to oversee the activities of the Congress' SC/OBC/Minority Departments, said the party's constitution as of now provides for 20% reservation for SCs, STs, OBCs and minorities. "The group has discussed and decided that in the short run we must step up this to 50%. Fifty per cent reservation in all the committees starting with booth committees, block committees, district committees, PCCs and the Congress Working Committee, be provided," he said. "There is a view from some of the participants that we need to go beyond 50% but members felt that let us step it up first from 20% to 50%," he added.

Raju said the Khurshid-led group has identified that there are many sub-castes within SCs and STs and the party needs to focus on those sub-castes which have not so far been represented in the organisation. "So, henceforth attention will be given to identify those sub-castes in these communities who have not been adequately represented within the organisation and also in the government,” Raju said.

Further, Congress organisational reforms committee is debating on the age limit for the party leaders for organisational positions and the idea has been floated that those who have crossed 70 years of age should step aside for new leadership and may instead adopt advisory roles, sources told IANS.

Meanwhile, another proposal which is being discussed is that half the office bearers will be less than 50 years old, and any office-bearer cannot hold a post for more than five years and the person has to step down on completion of the tenure. There will be a cooling-off period of three years before a new assignment is given.

The BJP has a ‘Margdarshak Mandal’ (advisory committee) since after the 2014 parliamentary polls, wherein veterans aged above 75 years, including stalwarts like LK Advani and MM. Joshi, were asked to quit active politics and guide the party. The move which was criticised by the Congress by claiming that the BJP is ill treating senior leaders of the party.

After the party meeting on Saturday, Congress General Secretary Ajay Maken said, "Our opponents have been faster in adopting new things, so now onwards our party will see the change after the shivir."

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