Rahul Gandhi regrets UPA bill didn’t provide for OBC quota in 2010
Addressing a press meet in New Delhi, the former Congress president urged the Modi government to implement the Bill immediately and said that his party would conduct a caste census if it came to power
NEW DELHI: A day after the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill in Parliament, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday said he regrets that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government did not provide a separate OBC quota for women when it brought the Bill in 2010.
Addressing a press meet in New Delhi, the former Congress president urged the Modi government to implement the Bill immediately and said that his party would conduct a caste census if it came to power.
Gandhi said that though his party supported the Women’s Reservation Bill, it came with riders — it would be implemented only after the caste census and the delimitation process were completed.
“It may take 10 years or more. I am not sure if it will be implemented even after then,” he said, adding that it is a diversionary tactic to divert attention from the caste census. “The truth is that the reservation can be implemented today. It is not a complicated matter. But the government doesn’t want to do that,” he added.
When asked if he regretted that the UPA government could not pass the Women’s Reservation Bill as it did not have a separate quota for OBC women, Gandhi said, “We regret that decision 100%… We should have done then and we definitely will. We also did the caste census, we did not release it at that time due to some reasons, but it should be released now.”
Though the Manmohan Singh-led government passed the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha in 2010, it could not pass it in the Lok Sabha as it was vehemently opposed by parties like the Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal in want of a ‘quota within quota’ for OBC women.
Gandhi said that while there is no official data available on the exact percentage of the OBCs in the country, it is said to be about 50 per cent. But, he added, their representation in the decision-making was negligible. Of the 90 top officials at the secretary level, there were just three OBC officers who control only 5 per cent of the Union budget, he said.
“As the Prime Minister keeps saying he is an OBC leader, I want him to explain why only three OBCs are in the Government of India. And why is the OBC community, which is the backbone of this country, responsible for only 5 per cent of the budget?” Gandhi said. The BJP delays the caste census since it does not want to empower OBCs proportionate to the population, he said.