Cong stand on quota irks its leaders in UP

Party will lose vote in state, they fear

Its stand on quota in promotions may prove costly for the Congress, which is struggling to make a comeback in the electorally crucial Uttar Pradesh, in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Party’s central leadership may be pitching for the quota in promotions to keep BSP supremo Mayawati, who is extending outside support to the UPA, in good humour, but its state leaders, especially those from the upper castes, appear to be a worried lot.
The bill was passed in Rajya Sabha on Monday.

“We stand to lose the upper caste votes in the state if quota in promotions is allowed through a constitutional amendment bill,” said a senior UP Congress leader has told Deccan Herald.

Their apprehension is quite understandable. On Monday, the opponents of the quota in sheer anger tore down posters of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi at the state party headquarters.

“Congress must realise that it will not get our votes in 2014 Lok Sabha polls,” declared Shailendra Dubey, leader of the state employees’ federation, which is spearheading the ongoing agitation against quota in promotions.

In the 2009 parliamentary elections, Congress, which had bagged 21 seats from UP, had secured votes of the upper caste, especially the Brahmin’ community. “The stand on quota however will deprive us of their votes this time,” said a Brahmin leader of the party.

Ironically, the Congress had recently constituted zonal committees in which it had followed the caste equations to the hilt. The upper caste members were given the charge of the zones where there were sizable numbers of their community votes.

“Caste politics is a reality in UP and the Congress must now form its strategy keeping it in view,” the leaders had said.

“We cannot expect to make a major dent in Mayawati’s Dalit and Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Yadav vote bank. We have to bank on Muslim and upper caste votes,” they said.

Congress could secure only 29 seats in 2009 Assembly polls and the party had to face a humiliating defeat at the Nehru-Gandhi pocket boroughs of Raebareli and Amethi.
The party may be able to survive with Mayawati’s support for now but whether the issue snowballs into a major electoral plank and impacts the results in UP remains to be seen.

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