Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge on Friday favoured caste census as the party's 85th plenary session which started on Friday with the party's steering committee deciding to authorise him to nominate members to the Congress Working Committee (CWC).
Party leader Jairam Ramesh said the Congress president stated in his remarks at a meeting that a caste-based census is necessary.
"This is an important step for social justice and social empowerment. The Prime Minister is quiet on the caste-based census, but we are talking about this issue in our plenary," Ramesh told reporters.
The Steering Committee of Congress met on Friday morning and decided to go for nomination members to Congress Working Committee in view of the challenges faced by the party and the proposed amendments to the party's constitution.
There was some speculation that Congress may opt for elections to CWC, a demand that has been raised from time to time by sections in the party. CWC is the highest-decision-making body of Congress.
"During the Steering Committee meeting today, members gave their opinion and with everyone's consent the committee decided that the party president should be given the power of selecting CWC members," party leader Jairam Ramesh said at a press conference.
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He said the issue was discussed for about two-and-a-half hours.
"The dominant view, the overwhelming view was that keeping in mind political challenges facing the country, facing the Congress party in its capacity as the main opposition and keeping in mind the far-reaching amendments that we are discussing tomorrow and day after, keeping in mind both the factors, the unanimous view was that this is the time to empower the Congress president to nominate members to the Congress Working Committee," he said.
He said 16 articles and 32 rules are proposed to be amended and an important amendment was to provide 50 per cent reservation in the working committee for SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities and youth below the age of 50.
Asked if no one from the Gandhi family was present in the meeting of the steering committee and if their concurrence taken, Ramesh said the discussion was held among those present in the meeting.
The Subjects Committee held a discussion on the party resolutions on Friday.
In his opening remarks, Kharge talked about the challenges including the assembly elections this year and the Lok Sabha polls next year.
He attacked the BJP-led government saying democracy and the Constitution were under threat.
Noting that 84 sessions of the party have been held since its formation in 1885, he said the plenary this year holds special significance as it marks 100 years since Mahatma Gandhi was elected the Congress president.
He hoped that the plenary will be a milestone in the party's journey.
The party is likely to amend the constitution to confer party leaders who have been Prime Ministers and party chiefs permanence in the CWC.
Party Chief Mallikarjun Kharge and former Congress president Sonia Gandhi will address the session on Saturday.
The plenary will also adopt various resolutions including political and economic.
Former Party chief Rahul Gandhi will address the plenary on February 26.
He will also address the public rally at 3 pm which will also be addressed by Kharge.
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