[IN FO­CUS: Cross­ing po­lit­i­cal di­vides for ticket

Com­mu­nity’s lead­ers, in sup­port of their de­mand for quota, de­mand ticket from both the BJP and the Congress

The Hindu - - TAKE FIVE - Mo­hammed Iqbal

The de­mand of the Gu­j­jar com­mu­nity in Ra­jasthan for a 5% quota within the reser­va­tion for the Other Back­ward Classes has taken a po­lit­i­cal turn ahead of the Assem­bly elec­tion.

On the pre­text of ef­forts for “po­lit­i­cal em­pow­er­ment”, sev­eral Gu­j­jar lead­ers are de­mand­ing ticket from both the rul­ing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress.

Over their 11-year ag­i­ta­tion for reser­va­tion, Gu­j­jars have fought pitched bat­tles with the po­lice, and ne­go­ti­ated with gov­ern­ments headed by the BJP and the Congress, be­sides tak­ing up the cause in the courts. Thirty-five per­sons died in the stir dur­ing Chief Min­is­ter Va­sund­hara Raje’s pre­vi­ous term.

Shift­ing de­mands

Gu­j­jars feel that dom­i­nant castes, such as Jats and Ya­davs, cor­ner the ben­e­fit of OBC reser­va­tion. Their de­mand has grad­u­ally shifted from in­clu­sion in the Sched­uled Tribe cat­e­gory to the cre­ation of a Spe­cial Back­ward Class (SBC) cat­e­gory and later, the sub-cat­e­gori­sa­tion of OBCs.

Gu­j­jar supremo Kirori Singh Bainsla, who led the quota ag­i­ta­tion, con­tested the 2009 Lok Sabha elec­tion on BJP ticket from the TonkSawai Mad­hopur seat, but lost to Namo Narain Meena of the Congress.

This time, the re­tired Lieu­tenant-Colonel of the Army has re­port­edly sought ticket from both the BJP and the Congress for his son and loy­al­ists and is wait­ing for their re­sponse.

Gu­j­jar leader Him­mat Singh, who broke away from Col. Bainsla’s camp re­cently, is an as­pi­rant for Congress ticket from Dausa.

Kalyan Singh Kothari, po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst and Lok Sam­vad Sansthan sec­re­tary, said here that the Gu­j­jar lead­ers started nurs­ing po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions on get­ting ex­po­sure to pub­lic life, but added that elec­toral bat­tles would not nec­es­sar­ily bring the de­sired ben­e­fits.

Gu­j­jar Aarak­shan Sang­harsh Samiti gen­eral sec­re­tary Shailen­dra Singh Dhab­hai told that the com­mu­nity had re­alised that its de­mands were not be­ing ac­cepted be­cause of its “po­lit­i­cal weak­ness”.

“If we send more com­mu­nity mem­bers to the Assem­bly, we will be able to con­vince the pow­ers-that-be of the need for reser­va­tion. The de­sire for po­lit­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion in pro­por­tion to our pop­u­la­tion is per­fectly jus­ti­fied,” Mr. Dhab­hai said. He said the Gu­j­jars, who in­flu­enced the out­come in nearly 65 seats, would ex­tend sup­port to the par­ties on the ba­sis of their re­sponse to the quota de­mand.

Ms. Raje’s much-pub­li­cised “Gaurav Ya­tra” in Au­gust lost steam after the Gu­j­jars threat­ened to dis­rupt it in the Bharatpur divi­sion. The Bharatpur re­gion was

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dropped from the Ya­tra’s itinerary in view of the protests in sev­eral Assem­bly seg­ments for quota and with­drawal of po­lice cases against com­mu­nity mem­bers de­tained dur­ing the pre­vi­ous ag­i­ta­tions.

Later, Gu­j­jar ac­tivists staged a protest in Ajmer be­fore a pub­lic rally of Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi in Oc­to­ber, de­mand­ing a meet­ing with him. When the pro­test­ers blocked the main road out­side the Col­lec­torate and burnt tyres, the po­lice re­sorted to a charge to dis­perse them.

lathi 50% ceil­ing

In­stead of tak­ing a favourable de­ci­sion on the de­mand for a 5% quota within the OBCs, the BJP govern­ment has given 1% reser­va­tion to Gu­j­jars, within the 50% ceil­ing man­dated by the Supreme Court.

Four other no­madic com­mu­ni­ties — Ban­jara, Ga­di­aLo­har, Raika and Gadariya — were in­cluded with the Gu­j­jars in the “most back­ward” cat­e­gory and given the quota last De­cem­ber.


Long protest: Gu­j­jars in Ra­jasthan tak­ing out a rally de­mand­ing reser­va­tion.

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