Scramble for quota in Jharkhand
The Times of India News Service
RANCHI: While the six-month-old Jharkhand state is still tottering on all fronts, different caste and ethnic groups have stepped up their demands for a share in reservation, details of which are being worked out by the state government.
While the Jharkhand Kurmi maharally kept the dominant Kurmis busy for the past few days, the Jharkhand Vaishya Samaj too offered a dharna Wednesday to demand a share in the panchayats and recognition of the Vaishya caste as backward class annexure I. The Vaishyas also supported the Kurmi rally and condemned the demand of Adivasi Janadhikar Manch for 60 per cent reservation for tribals.
The Vaishya leaders also demanded a probe into the activities of Salkhan Murmu, the BJP MP from Mayurbhanj in Orissa, who is leading the Adivasi Janadhikar Manch agitation.
The Kurmis, cutting across party lines, are demanding that they be listed as scheduled tribes as they were before 1930; and that a fair deal be given to them in the panchayati raj set up. In keeping with their politically dominating status in this region, they pulled out all stops to make their maharally a grand success which was an indirect warning to the state government, some senior local politicians said. While BJP MP Ram Tahal Choudhary openly criticised the Babulal Marandi government for hastily pushing the Panchayat Raj Bill through; the Rashtriya Janata Dal's Kurmi leaders too worked overtime to make the rally a success.
The Adivasi Janadhikar Manch has put up its tent near the Albert Ekka Chowk, demanding 60 per cent reservation for tribals. The Manch stages dharna daily and the agitators raise provocative slogans like "Apru- Chhapru bahar jao" and "adivasi Jharkhand banana hai, diku ko bhagana hai" (those from Chapra go back; we have to chase away the outsiders to make Jharkhand a tribal state).
The Sadans, that is the non-tribal indigenous population of Jharkhand, too are complaining that they have been ignored while formulating the reservation policy. Indeed, caste has become as important a factor as it has been in the parent state, Bihar.