The demand of the Gujjar community in Rajasthan for a 5% quota within the reservation for the Other Backward Classes has taken a political side 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 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.
Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla, who led the quota agitation, contested the 2009 Lok Sabha election on BJP ticket from the Tonk-Sawai 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.
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, Gadia-Lohar, Raika, and Gadariya — were included with the Gujjars in the “most backward” category and given the quota last December.
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