Congress President Sonia Gandhi has written to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, reminding him of the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government vis-à-vis welfare programme related to Dalits and Adivasis.
Writing about the suggestions that she has received, Gandhi said that the budget allocation for development of SC/ST communities needs to be proportionate to their share in population. “Focus may be on the schemes that benefit SC/ST communities to bring them on par with the rest of the society at the earliest. There should be legislative backing to utilize the funds allocated during the same financial year,” she said, referring to how previous Congress governments have done in Karnataka and undivided Andhra Pradesh.
“I am confident that under your leadership the MVA government in the state will continue to implement our MVA in letter and spirit,” she said in the two-page letter signed on 14 December.
The letter gains importance as this is the first time that Gandhi has written such a letter to Thackeray in nearly a year’s time since the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government came to power in Maharashtra.
Besides, as far as the timing is concerned, that too is significant as nearly 50 per cent of the Gram Panchayats in the states go to polls mid-January – which will be a sort of acid test for the MVA dispensation and its penetration at the hinterland.
Gandhi wrote that to stimulate entrepreneurship in SC/ST communities, reservation in government contracts and projects for enterprises promoted by SC/ST professionals should be introduced.
According to her, this has been done by the Congress-led UPA government headed by Dr Manmohan Singh at the Centre and previous Congress-led dispensation in Karnataka.
She asked rapid recruitment drives to be mounted for filling up backlog vacancies in a time-bound manner for posts already reserved for SC/ST in different departments.
“Education, technical training and skill development for SC/ST youth is crucial. This should receive the highest priority and scholarship schemes, hostel facilities, particularly residential schools must be expanded,” she wrote.