Caste lobbies resort to blackmail politics

The 15-day-long agitation, which resulted in cancellation of hundreds of trains and lakhs of tickets by passengers, has once again proved that the political parties in UP have very little concern for the people and that any community, which has the numbers, could ‘blackmail’ the government.

Thousands of people, who wanted to come home to be with their families for Holi, either cancelled their journey or had to face a lot of difficulty in reaching their destinations. But the government, which swears by their welfare, remained a mute spectator.
While the centre dilly-dallied on the demand of the ‘jats’ for reservation in government jobs, the state government, which did not hesitate to use brutal force against agitating Samajwadi Party and BJP workers, maintained that the ‘jat’ agitation was ‘peaceful’ and “poses no threat to law and order” and “therefore there was no reason for us to interfere”.

Peaceful agitation?

The government spokesmen did not have any explanation when asked if blocking rail traffic did not amount to breaking the law and whether disrupting movement of trains could be termed as a ‘peaceful agitation’.

The officials perhaps had no idea that many patients might have failed to reach the hospitals, the examinees were not reaching the examination centres and the daily commuters were finding it impossible to attend their offices.

Obviously, the ruling BSP was looking at a wider picture. The party, despite every effort, has not been able to make any serious dent into the Rashtriya Lok Dal’s ‘jat’ vote bank and the agitation provided it with a great opportunity.

Although the BSP was able to win the ‘jat’ dominated Khatauli, Bijnore, Kandhla, Kanth, Modinagar and Shikarpur seats in the 2007 Assembly polls, it failed to increase its reach further.

Mayawati declared her party’s wholehearted support for the demand of the ‘jats’ for reservation in the central jobs. The ‘jats’ are already included in the OBC category in the state. Going a step further, Mayawati wrote a letter to the centre urging the latter to sympathetically consider their demands.

The BSP government has also recommended inclusion of 18 new castes in the OBC category. Officials say the number could go up in the days to come as the polls near.

Incidentally, Mayawati’s BSP was not alone in maintaining silence over the agitation. The BJP, Congress, RLD and the SP were also playing a wait and watch game. No one wanted to annoy the ‘jats’, especially when the next Assembly polls were barely 14 months away. It is well-known that the ‘jats’ are an affluent community with substantial land holdings, yet their demand for reservation has found support from the political parties as they use reservation as a ploy to gain political mileage.

It is unfortunate that the ‘jats’ left the tracks only after the intervention of the court, which took suo moto cognisance of the plight of the ordinary people and directed the UP government to take steps to clear the rail tracks. It took the government barely a few hours to persuade the ‘jats’ to leave the tracks.

The ‘jats’ may have left the tracks and moved to a new venue, where their agitation would continue till their demand was met, the matter has not ended. In fact, the state could now witness a fierce fight among the political parties for the ‘jat’ votes.

Political observers fear many other castes, awaiting inclusion in the OBC category, may also resort to a similar agitation to force the governments to accept their demand and with the next assembly polls getting near, parties would find it difficult not to support their cause.

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