Considering the proportion of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Maharashtra, the Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has written to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and has suggested that adequate funds should be provided in the state budget for their welfare schemes.
She also reminded him of the Common Minimum Program (CMP) of the government and seeking the implementation of certain measures for the welfare of Dalits and tribals.
The letter is significant as Gandhi has written to Thackeray for the first time since her party formed an unlikely alliance with the Shiv Sena alongwith the NCP to form `Maha Vikas Aghadi'' (MVA) government in the state last year.
Among other things, Gandhi, in her letter dated December 14, demanded reservation in government contracts for SC/ST professionals to promote entrepreneurship among them, Congress sources said.
She expressed confidence that the MVA government under Thackeray''s leadership will implement the CMP in letter and spirit, sources added.
The budget allocation for the development of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes should be proportionate to their share in the population, she said.
The focus should be on bringing these communities on par with the rest of society at the earliest, Gandhi said.
"...there should be legislative backing to utilize the funds allocated (for schemes for SC/STs) during the same financial year," she said.
There should be recruitment drives for filling up backlog of vacancies in reserved posts, the Congress president said.
The letter also assumes significance in view of the upcoming Gram Panchayat elections in Maharashtra.