Thursday, March 23rd, 2023 15:58:20

UPA Sops May Help Congress In Rajasthan

Updated: March 22, 2014 12:30 pm

The Congress-led UPA government disregarded the advice of the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) against providing reservation to the Jat community with a view to pleasing the Jats of Rajasthan’s Dholpur, and Bharatpur districts and also the Jats of western Uttar Pradesh, Harayana, NCT Delhi, Uttrakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh were very pleased to hear this announcement of the UPA government as this would give them reservation in the central government jobs and also reservation in educational institutes. The Congress were looking for the 17 Lok Sabha seats in this area which it feels are influenced by the Jats and the reservation for the Jats would help the Congress.

The NCBC had unanimously rejected the proposal for reservation for Jats, saying that they were not socially and educationally backwards. The Jats are basically agriculturist community, but now they have excelled in various walks of life and in Rajasthan where more than 25 per cent of the total of 8.25 crore Jats in the country live, are a very strong political force. The Jats have contributed to the freedom movement and the medieval history suggests that during the time when the Rajputs and Mughlas were in alliance, it was the jats who picked up their sword against to the combined might. It was these reasons the Jats are described as “martial race”.

The Jats during the freedom struggle shed their blood and in Rajasthan the entire peasant movement were led by the Jats. In the post-independence era, the Jats along with Bishnoi which are culturally very strongly linked with the Jats and it was Guru Jambeshwar, a true environmentalist who formed a separate community which he named Bishnoi. But politically they are considered as one unit.

Adult franchise has created enormous social and political awakening among the Jat people. Consolidation of economic gains and participation in the electoral process are two visible outcomes of the post-independence situation. Through this participation they have been able to significantly influence the politics of North India. Economic differentiation, migration and mobility could be clearly noticed amongst the Jat people.

The Jats in Rajasthan were already getting the benefit of the reservation except for the Jats of Bharatpur and Dholpur districts who were not given the benefits of reservation because it was thought that they belonged to the erstwhile ruling community and were not backwards.

“Now with the Union Cabinet deciding to include all the Jats under the OBC a great justice had been done. The Jats of the Bharatpur and Dholpur were left behind for wrong notions as it was thought that the Jats of the region are rich and belonged to the ruling class. The credit for the inclusion of the Jats of Bharatpur and Dholpur should go to the Congress. On March 13, 2012 when the there was a Congress rule in the state, former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had written to the centre demanding the inclusions of the Jats of Bharatpur and Dholpur as OBCs,” said Vishvendra Singh, Congress MLA and a former ruler of Bharatpur, who belongs to the Jat ruling family.

The BJP is claiming the credit of the reservation, but Visvendra Singh asserted that Vasundhara Raje has wrongly taken the credit for the reservation. She belongs to Dholpur where she was married to the Jat royals, but she did little for the inclusion of the Jats of Baharatpur and Dholpur as OBCs.

“This reservation would come as a boom to the Congress. There are more than seven lakh Jat voters in Bharatpur and Dholpur and also one and a half lakh Jats in the Alwar Lok Sabha constituency and we are certain to win both Bharatpur and Dholpur seats that are reserved for the Scheduled Castes. The Jats would overwhelmingly vote for the Congress,” hoped Vishvendra.

In Rajasthan the Jats matter in Alwar, Bharatpur, Dholpur-Karauli, Jaipur (rural), Rajsamand, Pali, Jodhpur, Barmer, Jhunjhunu, Sikar, Churu, Bikaner and Ganganagar. Out of these seats, Bharatpur, Dholpur-Karauli, Bikaner and Ganganagar are reserved for the SCs, but in these seats the Jats with their large presence matter. The Congress hopes to win these seats. Currently the Congress held Jhunjhunu, Pali, Barmer, Bharatpur, Dholpur-Karauli, Ganaganagar, Jodhpur and Sikar seats. The Congress aims to go to these constituencies with added hope that the reservation would help it woo back the lost Jat community votes. In all there are eight Jats who are members of the Lok SabhaIn recent time, the Jats have shown that they want to educate their children and the literacy rate among Jats are very high and in Sikar and Jhunjhunu district one can see large number of Jat children going to convent school. The merit list of various services in the state government saw large number of Jats making in as toppers. In Rajasthan, the combined strength of the Jat and Bishnoi has been a force to reckon with as many as 40 MLAs and eight member of Lok Sabha.

Under the Rahul Gandhi’s primary programme, wherein countrywide the candidates for the Lok Sabha election was to be chosen by the party cadres under the “primary system”, 15 such candidates were to be chosen. Out of these two constituencies Ganganagar (SC) and Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan were selected. At Ganaganagar’s reserved seat Shankar Pannu was elected and at Jhunjhunu the daughter-in-law of the late Union minister Sis Ram Ola was elected and these two candidates would now be the party’s nominees for the two Lok Sabha seats.

In Jhunjhunu which is a Jat dominant constituency with large number of ex-servicemen, the late Sis Ram used to have high influence in the area and Ola have been a four time MP from this seat. Rajbala, the daughter-in-law faced the former Congress legislator Shrawan Kumar in the party’s primaries election and Rajbala defeated Shrawan Kumar 504-287. However, Rajbala is facing a tough fight as her rivals are strongly pitched. AAP has pitched-forked a retire Major General, Raj Kadiyan, who is a Jat Sikh. He is the contest because he is an ex-army general and the BJP is likely to field former army chief VK Singh or the Olympian shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. The contest at Jhunjhunu is going to be very tough. But Rajbala would go to the electoral battle claiming that she is the “daughter of the soil” while others were rank outsiders.

“The Congress dreams that with these sops it would be able to woo the votes of the Jats are unfounded. The Jats have decided that they would vote for the BJP and nothing can stop this,” said the BJP spokeperson Jyoti Kiran.

Jats have always regretted that despite the fact that they have great influence in the politics of the state; no Jat ever became the Chief Minister. The Jats became particularly bitter when in 2003 Ashok Gehlot was preferred over late Paras Ram Maderna and was made the Chief Minister.

The Jats opposed Gehlot as he was allegedly against giving the Jats the status of Other Backward Classes (OBCs). However, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s NDA government granted them the OBC status. In Rajasthan, the Congress lost power in 2003, mainly because of the anti-Gehlot feeling and the Jats tilted towards the BJP considering that Vasundhara Raje is a “Jat Bahu”. However, when Vasundhara Raje came to power she did not give much importance to the Jats, as a result, a sizeable number of Jats came back to the Congress fold. But under the changed political scenario in the country, the Jats overwhelmingly supported the BJP resulting in the crushing defeat of the Congress.

The Congress, however, is hopeful to get the votes of the Dhanka community, who were earlier classified as the “Scheduled Castes”, but now as the “ST”. There was a lot of confusion over their credentials, but now the Union Home ministry has made it clear that the Dhanka community are STs. There is a lone Dhanka community MLA in the Rajasthan Assembly Anju Dhanka and she is expected to contest from the Dausa (ST) reserved seat for the Lok Sabha. The Dhanka community is likely to challenge the monopoly of the Meena community in the ST reserved seat.

By Prakash Bhandari from Jaipur

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