Congress President Sonia Gandhi's letter to Maharashtra Chief Minster Uddhav Thackeray seeking more attention and funds by the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government for disadvantaged sections is seen as a signal to Maratha leaders and state unit chief Balasaheb Thorat not to neglect such communities in the functioning of the party organisation and in governance.
Gandhi has also conveyed that the dominance of Maratha ministers and such leaders will not be tolerated as the Congress party’s social agenda lays emphasis on the protection of the weaker sections of the society especially the dalit, Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and other marginalised.
Gandhi has not only conveyed Thackeray to implement a four-point agenda for the disadvantaged and marginalised sections as per the MVA’s common minimum programme but also has given a wakeup call for the established leaders and ministers from upper class to be more inclusive especially in the functioning of the party organisation. This is important when the Congress party over the year has lost its traditional vote bank of dalit, OBCs, tribals and other marginalised sections. Even though the party is a junior partner in the MVA government, it is struggling to regain its strongholds due to weak organisational links.
Energy Minister Dr Nitin Raut, who is the Chairman of All India Congress Committee’s Scheduled Cast (SC) Cell, told Free Press Journal, “The Congress president’s letter reiterates party’s commitment to the Constitution of India and also to the thoughts advocated by social reformers such as Shau Maharaj ,Mahatma Phule and Dr BR Ambedkar. The party will not compromise on the social agenda. The letter is signal to established leaders to pay adequate attention on the dalits, OBCs, tribal and marginalised sections in the party’s functioning and also running the coalition government.”
He also hinted that the letter was a pointer to a senior party leader making desperate efforts to become state party unit chief while neglecting leaders from disadvantaged and marginalised sections.
A few party leaders, who did not want to be named, have said that the Congress president seems to have taken a note of rising dominance of Maratha leaders and state unit chief Balasaheb Thorat while keeping non-Maratha leaders at bay. Further, Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Speaker Nana Patole and Dr Raut have reportedly evinced interest to become state party chief in order to broad-base party organisation.
Former Rajya Sabha MP Dr Bhalchandra Mungekar admitted that the Congress president’s letter is a reminder to the state leaders that the party has joined the MVA government not just to keep BJP out of power but also put on fast track the implementation of pro-poor and pro-marginalised programmes.
“It has to remind the state party leaders and ministers in particular that they should be alert and vigilant in speedy implementation of those programmes both at the party level and government,” he noted.
Dr Raut concluded that the Congress president has also hinted that those who will oppose the Constitution especially equality and brotherhood will not be tolerated in the Congress party.