OBC list changes threaten to stir caste cauldron
SUKHMANI SINGH JAIPUR, JULY 27: LEAKED highlights of a proposal by the state OBC Commission trifurcating Rajasthan's Other Backward Classes has left the dominant Jat community fuming.
The 60 lakh-strong Jats - a sizeable part of Rajasthan's 5.64-crore population - have been clubbed with the Gujjars, Bishnois, Ahirs and Mahlis in the newly classified A category and given 6 per cent reservation. The community earlier enjoyed a blanket 21 per cent reservation.
Those considered more backward, such as the Darjis, Lohars, Tarkhans and Telis, have been put in the B category with seven per cent reservation.
The most backward castes such as the Banjaras, Jogis and Nats form the C category with eight per cent reservation.
Those calling for blanket reservation as well as groups demanding two separate categories of OBCs are unhappy, and if implemented, the proposals of the commission headed by retired chief justice R.S. Verma could spell political harakiri for Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
While a senior BJP leader cautions that clearing the proposal ''could lead to violence'', Gyan Prakash Pilania, former Rajasthan DGP and a patron of the Jat Mahasabha, says: ''No mature chief minister will implement it''.
Satya Narain Singh Saini, patron of the fast growing Samajik Nyay Manch which has been demanding two OBC lists and reservation for economically backward upper castes such as the Rajputs and Brahmins, says: ''The proposal is just a strategy to avoid making the two lists demanded, and strengthen the privileges enjoyed by the powerful Jats. The proposed measures have been deliberately leaked to taste public reaction.''
''Chief Minister Gehlot will refrain from implementing it on the grounds that it will lead to violence. He knows that the proposal follows no principle of classification and will lead to caste tension in villages,'' says Saini.
Gehlot, a Malhi (gardener), is hardly seen as a Jat sympathiser. He is believed to have reluctantly agreed to include the Jats in the OBC list in November 1999 because of pressure from the Centre and political compulsions. Rajasthan has 39 Jat MLAs and nine MPs. Five ministers in the state cabinet belong to the community.
Verma has denied that he framed the proposal in accordance with the wishes of Gehlot. ''The government had no say,'' he says.
Over a year ago, the five-member commission had released a report recommending ''bifurcation of Backward Castes'' with a seven and 14 per cent break-up, which was eventually rejected. It was asked to re-work the proposal.