Hyderabad: Fearing that it might lose out to the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi’s (TRS) outreach to the backward classes (BC) community through government programmes, the Congress has launched its own BC commission to look into their issues. The community constitutes 50% of the population in Telangana.
The Congress is primarily seen as a stronghold of just a few communities like the Reddys, Malas (scheduled caste) and a few others among the BCs, apart from minorities, but the party is now looking to change that perception before the assembly elections.
“It is a reality that the backward classes are significant in number and their issues are also important (for us)," said a senior Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) leader, who did not want to be named.
“There are many caste groups who have never been represented electorally, and we want that to happen now," the TPCC leader said.
The BC commission formed by the TPCC comprises 25 members, who will critically examine the schemes being implemented for BCs by the ruling TRS.
The schemes include a sheep distribution programme for the Golla and Kurma communities, which primarily take up shepherding. Similarly, the government has also launched the Kalyana Lakshmi scheme under which a one-time financial assistance of Rs75,000 is to be provided to families of brides to meet wedding expenses. The Mahatma Jyothiba Phule Vidya Nidhi programme provides Rs20 lakh scholarship for eligible students to pursue higher studies abroad.
The Congress commission will also identify leaders among BC communities right from the mandal to district levels in the state and its members will tour the state and will give the TPCC office-bearers fortnightly reports and a final report in May, once its tenure ends on 30 April.
Both the TRS and Congress are now eyeing the BC vote share, as the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has weakened in the state. The BC community was seen as TDP’s backbone. TDP lost 12 of its 15 MLAs to the TRS through defections and recently one to the Congress, post Telangana’s formation.
“With the TDP losing steam, the backward class vote bank is up for grabs. Both the TRS and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are also trying hard to attract these voters. And the Congress, which is striving for a political revival in Telangana, too is not behind in the race. Under the leadership of (Congress president) Rahul Gandhi, it appears to be devising a formula to win back the trust of various sections in Telangana," said political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.
Reddy said that having an approach with BCs like the Congress has with SC/ST groups is a great idea. “The party stands a good chance of winning in Telangana whenever the state votes next. And BC votes will decide its fortunes," he added.
TPCC chief spokesperson Sravan Kumar Dasoju said the Congress wants to implement the idea of social justice for all communities.