THE CITIZEN BUREAU | 2 APRIL, 2019
What’s in the Congress Manifesto for Adivasis, Muslims and Dalits?
NEW DELHI: The Congress manifesto lists promises for Adivasi, Muslim and Dalit Indians dubbing “caste or communal violence” as a foremost threat to internal security. It promises development in areas affected by Maoist violence.
With regard to caste or communal violence, the manifesto promises to ‘put down such violence with a firm hand using the police forces at its command, apprehend the instigators and bring them to justice. There will be no room for self-appointed vigilante groups and moral policing brigades.
‘Congress will work with State Governments to increase the strength of State police forces, fill all vacancies, equip and train them, and deploy them impartially to maintain law and order and to detect and punish violators and instigators.
‘Congress promises to take strong action with respect to crimes against women, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minorities. The law will be applied on the perpetrators without fear or favour. They will not be allowed to walk on the streets with a sense of impunity.
‘Congress will hold the District Administration responsible for riots, caste or communal violence, large scale crimes against women, and for the widespread breakdown of law and order.’
Engaging with citizens and civil society
‘Congress promises to re-constitute the National Integration Council to promote unity, solidarity, communal harmony, fraternity and reconciliation. Congress promises to work with the Council to fight divisive and communal forces that are a danger to the unity and solidarity of the country.
‘Congress will set up an Inter-faith Council consisting of leaders of all religions in order to promote respect for all religions, mutual tolerance and fraternity, to hold inter-faith dialogues, and enhance cultural exchanges between people belonging to different religions.
‘We will encourage citizens to form civil society organisations. We will create an institutional framework under which Central and State Governments may consult civil society organisations on formulating policies, implementing programmes and obtaining feedback on outcomes.’
Governance, transparency and accountability
‘Congress promises to pass an Anti-Discrimination Law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion, caste, gender or language in the supply of goods and services that are made available to the public in general such as housing, hostels, hotels, clubs, etc.’
For the northeastern states, where many Christians and Adivasis live, the manifesto promises to
‘a. Restore Special Category status to the North Eastern States;
b. Withdraw the infamous Citizenship Amendment Bill, which caused widespread resentment;
c. Enhance financial assistance to the Autonomous District Councils in acknowledgement of their importance to the North Eastern States.’
In the judiciary, it is promised, ‘We will enhance representation at all levels of the judiciary for women, SC, ST, OBC, minorities and other under-represented sections of society.’
Police reforms are to be detailed in a Model Police Act the Congress will table in Parliament:
‘The objectives of the Model Police Act will be to make the police forces modern, technology-enabled, people-friendly, and upholders of human rights and legal rights. Provisions will be made in the Model Police Act to:
a. Make the State police force accountable to an independent Police Accountability Commission as well as to give an annual report to the State Legislature.
b. Decentralise the police force in the State and to involve the community in the oversight of the police force.
c. Cause investigations into cases of communal riots, lynchings and gang rapes by a special wing of the State police under the direct command of the State Headquarters of the police.’
‘We will work with State Governments to ensure that their police forces reflect the diversity of the population of the State and gives greater representation to under-represented sections.’
Religious and linguistic minorities
‘We will pass a new law in the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha and in the Rajya Sabha to prevent and punish hate crimes such as mob-engineered stripping, burning and lynching. The law will contain provisions to compensate the victims and to hold accountable the police and district administration for proven negligence.’
‘Congress promises to uphold the character of Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia as minority educational institutions.’
‘We promise that the National Commission for Women and the National Commission for Minorities will be given Constitutional status as in the cases of similar Commissions.’
Denotified and semi-nomadic tribes
‘Congress promises a Special Census and the enumeration of Denotified and Semi-Nomadic Tribes and the integration of the data in the decennial census.’
‘We will immediately repeal the Habitual Offenders Act, 1952 that has discriminated against and stigmatised Denotified and Semi-Nomadic Tribes and led to their harassment.’
‘Congress will work with State Governments to impart education and skills to Denotified and Semi-Nomadic Tribes, especially the children, in order that they may find productive jobs and reap the benefits of economic development.’
SCs, STs and OBCs:
1. Congress promises a holistic agenda of affirmative action for SCs, STs and OBCs who constitute a little more than 75 per cent of the population. Hence, Congress promises to set up an Equal Opportunities Commission, which will recommend affirmative action strategies and policies to achieve equality—and equity—in education, employment and in economic opportunities. We will implement the recommendations of the Equal Opportunities Commission.
2. We will pass a law to restore the original purpose and intent of the 200-point roster system and implement it for the institution as a whole.
3. Congress promises to fill all backlog vacancies reserved for SCs, STs and OBCs in government, semi-government and central public sector organisations within 12 months.
4. Congress promises to amend the Constitution to provide for reservation in promotion posts for SCs, STs and OBCs.
5. Congress will acquire panchami and mahar lands in the occupation of non-Dalits and distribute the lands to SCs and STs.
6. We will implement a scheme under which basic amenities such as water, sanitation, electricity and internal roads will be provided in every SC and ST habitation.
7. Special attention will be paid to the educational and health needs of the Scheduled Tribes.
8. We will increase the number and extend the Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship, presently available to SCs and STs, to scholars belonging to the OBCs.
9. In order to enable SCs, STs and OBCs to compete as equals, Congress will require public schools to offer English as a language of study in Classes VI to XII.
10. Congress promises to pass a law to provide for reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs in private higher education institutions.
11. We will work with State Governments to review the curriculum of schools and include texts on the history and culture of SCs and STs and the contributions made by leaders belonging to these communities.
12. It will be our national mission to implement, in letter and spirit, the Forest Rights Act, 2006 and to secure for the Scheduled Tribes the rights guaranteed under the Act.
13. Congress promises to remove the inconsistencies between the Forest Rights Act and the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority Act, 2005 and to reaffirm the role of the Gram Sabha.
14. We promise a time-bound review of all IFR/CFR claims rejected under the Forest Rights Act and disposal within 6 months. Meanwhile, we will stop the eviction of the 18.9 lakh households that face imminent eviction.
15. We will establish a National Commission for Non-Timber Forest Produce and offer Minimum Support Prices for such produce to improve the livelihood and income of Adivasis.
16. Under the Affirmative Action Programme, Congress will ensure that a fair share of government procurement and government contracts is given to SCs, STs and OBCs.
17. We will pass a law to require governments to transparently disclose in their budget documents the allocations to SCs and STs under the Special Component Plan for SCs and Tribal Sub-Plan for STs and to prohibit diversion of such funds.