The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Jaipur quota cry gets shriller

Jaipur, May 22: The communities demanding reservation in poll-bound Rajasthan will continue the agitation though chief minister Ashok Gehlot has sent a recommendation of a 14 per cent quota for the economically weak among the upper castes to the Centre.

Leaders of the Rajput and Brahmin communities, which are spearheading the movement, expressed dissatisfaction over lobbing of the quota ball in the Centre’s court. They welcomed the decision, but in the same breath said this “lollipop” won’t do.

“Gehlot’s political gimmickry of passing the buck to the Centre won’t work,” said Sarva Brahmin Mahasabha president Suresh Mishra, demanding that a resolution be adopted by a specially-convened session of the Assembly to prepare the ground for the Centre to move further.

A Mahasabha team is meeting BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu tomorrow in Delhi to ensure a constitutional amendment required for the 14 per cent quota.

Rajput leader Lokendra Singh Kalvi, the state convener of the Samajik Nyaya Manch, said if negotiations with BJP general secretary Rajnath Singh in Jaipur on Saturday and with Congress leaders in Delhi the next day do not pay off, the Manch will renew disruption of rallies by leaders of the two parties.

Speaking at a news conference today, Kalvi said they had never demanded reservation on the basis of the economic criterion that required a constitutional amendment. “Our demand has been for OBC status within the 49 per cent (reservation) limit on the basis of occupation to all those 12 communities of the state which have been left out of the present quota regime,” he said.

Of the 317 communities identified in the state, all but 12 had the benefit of reservation, he pointed out. The left-out communities include Brahmin, Rajput, Rajpurohit, Vaishya, Punjabi, Khatri, Sindhi, Sheikh, Bohra, Pathan, Lashkari and Kayastha.

“We know that both the BJP and the Congress as also the other political parties will not allow any constitutional amendment as they did in the case of the women’s reservation Bill… We suggest and want new communities to be added by classifying the OBC list as has been done in more than one state like Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu,” Kalvi said.

The demand for reservation for the upper castes rose when the Jats, except those in Bharatpur and Dholpur districts where they were the ruling class in the former princely states, were given OBC status by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government on the eve of the last Lok Sabha election.

Rajasthan not only implemented the order despite opposition from the State Commission for Other Backward Classes, but extended the privilege to the Jats who were farmers in Dholpur and Bharatpur and to the Gosais (Brahmin pujaris) of Nathdwara on the eve of panchayat elections in 2000, Kalvi said.

The same criterion of occupation should now be applied to those communities that had been left out of the quota regime, he argued.

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