The recent letter of Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi to Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on the issue of SC and ST, indicated that all is not well in the Maha-Vikas-Aghadi government in Maharashtra. In her letter, Sonia Gandhi has reminded him of the commitments made to the Dalits and Adivasis in the Common Minimum Programme of the Maha Vikas Agadi government in Maharashtra.
The Congress is part of this government in alliance with the Shiv Sena and the NCP. Sonia Gandhi said the government must implement the Common Minimum Programme in letter and spirit.
In her letter dated December 14, Sonia Gandhi raised issues pertaining to the schemes and budgetary allocations meant for Dalits and Adivasis. “The budget allocation for the development of SCs and STs should be proportionate to their share in the population. There should be legislative backing to utilise funds allocated during the same financial year,” Sonia Gandhi said in the letter, adding that Congress-ruled states have made laws regarding the same.
It means that such budget allocation was not made in the state outlay in current financial year. She also raised issues like stimulating entrepreneurship in the SC/ST communities, reservation in government contracts for projects for enterprises, rapid recruitments drives for filling up backing vacancies in a time-bound manner for posts already reserved for SCs and STs in different departments, technical education training and skill development of SC/ST youth, among other issues.
The letter gains significance because this is for first time that Sonia Gandhi has written such a letter to Uddhav Thackeray since the Congress, Shiv Sena and NCP joined hands to form government in Maharashtra. The letter is also being seen as an attempt to mount pressure by the Congress, which has always felt side-lined in the last one year. Several Congress ministers have come out in the open and complained about being ignored and not given due importance in the Uddhav Thackeray-led government.
However, Sena said there was no pressure politics by the Congress after Sonia Gandhi wrote a letter to Uddhav Thackeray seeking welfare measures for dalits and tribals in Maharashtra. Seeking to clarify on the letter, Maharashtra Congress president Balasaheb Thorat said that Sonia Gandhi has written a letter to state chief minister Uddhav Thackeray not out of resentment, but as part of a dialogue process.
However, political observers feel that it’s not a routine letter. If chief of one of the allies pointed out such lapses within the government, it’s a serious matter. This has also indicated that something everything is not in order within the allies!
** M Charulata