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Caste faux pas leaves Congress red faced

By Renu Mittal
January 13, 2010 00:26 IST
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There are red faces in the Congress as the party has now been officially bracketed with casteist parties, who work and make appointments on the basis of caste, rather than other considerations.

In Bihar, there is all kind of trouble for the party after its All India Congress Committee general secretary in charge of Bihar, Jagdish Tytler, and Pradesh Congress Committee President Anil Sharma released a list of 569-member state committee. What is shocking is that the caste of each member has been written next to his or her names.

Moreover, the list includes the name of Lok Sabha Speaker Meera Kumar and against her name is written her caste, 'chamar' – the use of which is unconstitutional.

Also, there are names in the list of those who have been dead for some time and are not around to appreciate the fact that they have been included in the list.

After hue and cry over the matter, a second list was released. A white paper was put over the caste field and then photocopied. Interestingly, Tytler and Sharma did not send the final approved list back to the AICC.

There is some confusion on whether the list was sent to the Congress president or not in the first place for approval. When asked about the Bihar list, Congress President Sonia Gandhi reacted sharply by asking, "List? What list? I have not seen any list. I do not know about any list."

She made the comment after attending a function to award the Indira Gandhi peace prize to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The Janhit Morcha burnt effigies of Tytler and Sharma in Patna for playing caste politics even as the BJP has also severely criticized the party.

A Congress office bearer is learnt to be filing a case in the court at the manner in which the Bihar Congress has been openly using and displaying caste and that too in derogatory terminology.

A number of senior Bihar Congress leaders are in New Delhi to discuss what course of action to taken with many of them like Ashok Ram and Sadanand Singh contemplating putting in their papers at the manner in which the party is being run in the state.

A senior leader admitted that the faux pas, which is an embarrassment to the party and which should not have happened if certain procedures were followed, said Tytler, who has no organizational experience, should have sent the list back to the AICC, from where it would have been vetted once again and then released.

But a Bihar leader said that if it is true that Sonia Gandhi has not seen the list or does not know about it, then the entire exercise of 569 names becomes pointless. One leader said they would ask the leadership to scrap the list and ensure that those who are not Congress members or otherwise not fit should not be included.

But the main question being asked is, when an AICC general secretary is given the power to take decisions regarding the running of a particular state organization and if he does not deliver or abuses that trust, then does the leadership take action against him or does he continue to be protected because he is close to some important leaders around the Congress President?
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Renu Mittal in New Delhi