Congress for SC/ST quota in private educational institutions To push its â€œinclusiveâ€ agenda ahead of the general elections, the Congress is proposing reservation for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in private educational institutions. At present, SC and ST reservation of 15 and 7.5 per cent, respectively, applies only to government and government-aided educational institutions. The big ticket proposal, which has been mooted for the partyâ€™s manifesto, was given shape after the party conducted consultations with several Dalit youths and students. Under Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, there has been a renewed thrust on bringing Dalits back to the party fold. He had spoken about the need for Dalits to acquire â€œthe escape velocity of Jupiterâ€ to improve their lot and this proposal is one such step. Un-aided institutions such as the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, private universities, degree colleges, engineering and medical colleges would fall under the ambit of private institutes. A Congressman, closely connected with the proposal, said, â€œAfter all, the government may not be directly funding them but it provides an enabling environment for such educational institutes. And, there has to be equal access to all communities to such institutes.â€ At present, the creamy layer within the SCs and STs is denied benefits of reservation. But the Congress proposal seeks to end this distinction. The party is in favour of enacting a law to translate this into a reality. The 93rd constitutional amendment had already paved the way for quotas in private educational institutions. The Congress wants to see that implemented. Ever since Rahul took charge, he has been focusing on issues concerning employment and skills development. Just as in 2004 and again in 2009, the party will be pushing for reservation in private sector jobs as well. The party is keen to bring in legislation to ensure there is reservation for these communities in private sector jobs also. Traditionally, Dalits had been a Congress vote bank, but, of late, they have drifted towards other parties. Despite the partyâ€™s assurances of â€œaffirmative actionâ€ , the decline has been unabated.