Hyderabad: Former IAS officer of Andhra Pradesh cadre, Koppula Raju who was recently appointed as the chairman of the All India Congress Committee’s (AICC) SC Cell, said on Friday that his party was committed to bringing a legislation on Sub-Plan for SCs /STs at the earliest.
Raju who had opted for voluntary retirement before taking the plunge into politics told The Indian Express that : “The commitments made by the party at the Jaipur declaration will be fulfilled as the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has constituted a task force committee to prepare a draft law.” The former officer of the 1981 batch, who was associated with the poverty eradication initiatives of the AP government , said that he was a member of the task force and the Ministry had asked for suggestions from States and Central Ministries in this regard.
Regarding the diversion of funds meant for SCs/STs, he said that the objective of SC/ST Sub-Plan had not been properly understood, and admitted that there had been diversions of funds in the past and even MPs had expressed their reservations in the Parliament during debate on this matter.
On when the Central legislation would come into force, the former Secretary of the National Advisory Council (NAC), headed by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, said that there was no time-frame set for the bill, adding “the Cabinet note is being prepared which would be forwarded to Law Ministry for its approval.”
Raju who is considered close to AICC Vice-President Rahul Gandhi said: “SCs/STs will have more say in party politics than before and steps are being taken reconstitute the panels from village to State-level. Leaders from the backward sections would be nurtured so that they can raise the issues of SCs/STs within the party and outside.”Expressing confidence that the role of SCs in the Congress party would be strengthened before the 2014 general elections, Raju said that his party had special place for the Dalits and weakers sections of the society.
On the reservations for SCs in private sector, Raju that it was a long-pending demand and that he was working on a strategy. “The SC Department of Congress party will work on the aspirations of the SCs to to get the private industry on board .”
Raju stated that the rights guaranteed to SCs under the Constitution should be properly ensured. There should be no discrimination in the society, and best education and health and better living conditions should be provided to them.