The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Axe brings desert trishul rivals together

Jaipur, April 28: The pharsa or axe has done the improbable after the trishul (trident) pitched the Congress against the Sangh in the state.

Leaders of rivals Congress and BJP shared the dais at a divisional-level rally of the Rajasthan Brahmin Mahasabha organised yesterday in Jodhpur, chief minister Ashok Gehlot’s hometown.

Following the trend set by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s trishul deeksha, the Brahmin Aarakshan Manch of the Mahasabha threatened a pharsa deeksha (axe initiation) across the state if the government fails to concede its demand of 15 per cent reservation in government jobs and educational institutions by June 10.

The Manch’s 45-day ultimatum period expires that day, which coincides with Gayatri Jayanti.

The youths will sit in polling booths to convey the community’s message to the electorate, Manch president Shyam Sunder Vashishth said.

The axe has been chosen as the symbol as it is identified with Lord Parashuram, the icon of Brahmin chivalry. Vashishth announced the move at the rally at Ravan Ka Chabutara, where 30,000 Brahmins turned up.

Among those looking on were state ministers of personnel B.D. Kalla and higher education Shailendra Joshi and the BJP’s Hari Shankar Bhabhra, a former deputy chief minister, and Ghanshyam Tiwari, member of the party’s national executive.

Mahila Congress state vice-president Sharda Sharma was also present.

Kalla assured Brahmins of his full support in achieving their goal of reservation. “I am with you in every step taken to realise the end,” he said.

Later, however, Kalla played down the rhetoric by saying the pharsa deeksha might be the brainchild of an individual leader and nothing should be done against the law.

Joshi said no nation or society can develop without giving merit its due. Even if a Brahmin youth scores 90 per cent, he cannot become an engineer or a doctor, he emphasised.

Tiwari said reservation had divided society into categories of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, backward and “forward”. The biggest victim of the system, he said, were Brahmins, who were traditionally without any material resources.

He vociferously supported the demand for 15 per cent reservation, prompting the youths at the rally to raise their hands in support and wave their axes.

Vashishth urged the community to vote only for that party which supported their demand. He said 800,000 votes could make or break a government and there were 45 lakh Brahmin voters in the state.

Mahasabha president Bhanwar Lal Sharma, also an Independent legislator, took a dig at the political leaders present, saying his campaign was social, not political, unlike political parties’ which only had an eye for Brahmin votes.

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