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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Rahul Gandhi interacts with minorities on Congress manifesto

New Delhi: Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi interacted with members of minority communities in New Delhi on Monday as part of Congress strategy to hold consultations with various people for preparing party’s election manifesto.

The meeting was aimed at to gather the views and demands of minorities at the grassroots level for inclusion in the Congress manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls. Monday's deliberations were the second as part of the manifesto consultation process, which is being spearheaded by Rahul Gandhi.

Recalling the fears of a young boy he had met during his recent visit to a relief camp in Shamli near Muzaffarnagar, Rahul Gandhi said, "No person of any community or caste should ever be scared in India. This is a secular country" and added, “The boy had told him that he was afraid to return to his village following the riots”. The Congress President also spoke about the need to instil a sense of security among all sections of society.

Rahul Gandhi stated that the key issue is leadership. "Until we open up processes, until we encourage leadership, problems will not be solved. The problem at all levels is of developing leadership," he asserted.

He stressed the need to fight the politics that thrives on creating fear and said the Congress believed in "Shanti ke saath kranti" (peace and transformation). Rahul Gandhi said that the consultations were the first step towards opening up processes to develop policy and provide political representation. He said the main way to empower the marginalized sections of society was to improve their access to quality education. The Congress Vice President added that true governance was that which provided dignity and respect to the people and ensured that their voices were heard.

The meet also saw some plain speaking by the participants who told Rahul Gandhi that issues concerning the minority community should be decided by talking to representatives on the ground and not just to some Muslim leaders at the top. Responding to the demand for reservation, the Congress leader told them that while such a move could be a solution, it alone would not be enough to raise the economic and social status of the minority community.

At the meet, representatives of the Jain community demanded minority status for themselves and Christian members raised the issue of Kandhmal riots. Later, at a press conference, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said issues of security, peace, education and job opportunities dominated the meeting. On the issue of reservation for Dalit Christians and 4.5 per cent quota for backward minorities in OBC categories, the meeting saw pleas urging that courts be requested to expedite decisions in such matters.

Other party leaders present at the meeting included Union Ministers Salman Khurshid, K Rahman Khan, Oscar Fernandes and Jairam Ramesh.

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