Reservation remains a chimera for Gurjars

Since 2007, the state has had to face greater heat of a different kind—of simmering desires and unfulfilled expectations—of a community, that claims to be the most unfortunate in the history of the desert state.

After two violent protests that claimed nearly 70 lives during clashes between Gurjar agitators and the police in 2007 and 2008, the community’s ultimate objective of acquiring a Scheduled Tribe status remains an elusive dream. The man who spearheaded the Gurjar protests and scripted the agitation—retired colonel Kirori Singh Bainsla— is now an object of both cynosure and criticism within and outside the community.
Thanks to the protests, the community could get a Rs 282 crore economic package from the Vasundhara Raje government, a legislation promising 5 per cent reservation under special category and a plethora of sops in the current budget. 

Yet, it is like a half empty glass staring at the community. All the packages and incentives cannot appease the community, since they still lag behind their principal rivals Meenas, who enjoy a fair share of plush government jobs and positions, thanks to their ST tag. The Gurjar youths had started dreaming of government jobs under ‘special category’ along with other most economically backward nomadic tribes.

Golden opportunity
But the quota legislation passed by the previous BJP government got stalled when it was challenged before the high court. The community members were ready to wait patiently, but what has irked them is the recent announcement by the Ashok Gehlot government to recruit 80,000 people in government jobs. A golden opportunity, which the Gurjar community cannot avail of till the 5 per cent issue is not settled by the court!
The recruitment drive is the latest bone of contention between the Gurjars and the government. Gurjar leader K S Bainsla has asked the chief minister to freeze all recruitments till the reservation issue is settled by the court. The government has refused to accede to the request, stating that the delay will be unfair to all other aspirants.

After two violent agitations in Rajasthan, Bainsla has lost the sympathy of general public, as people suffered a lot due to the disruption of rail and road traffic during Gurjar protests. He is also facing dissent within the community. Though some rebel Gurjar leaders had opposed him during different phases of the agitation, he became a prime target of his detractors after joining the BJP on the eve of last year’s Lok Sabha polls. He was BJP’s candidate from Tonk constituency, where he took on Union minister Namo Narain Meena.

The retired colonel, who wears his signature red turban and rustic outfit is remembered for his famous statement during the first phase of Gurjar agitation—“only a bullet or a letter (granting the demands) can remove me from here.” But this time, the appeal by a dozen Gurjar leaders and religious men asking the community members to stay away from the agitation is indicative of the colonel’s waning influence. Though he claims his base remains strong, a sudden change in his strategy for the present stir is being seen as the sliding support for him in some regions.
Bainsla had earlier called for a mahapanchayat at Pushkar in Ajmer, but suddenly decided to change the venue ahead of the agitation. He may have realised that he no longer calls the shots in that region.

The colonel is now back on the familiar territory of Dausa district -- the epicentre of the previous two agitations -- to launch yet another crusade. The road is thorny and there are risks galore, but he believes that he has to march till his mission is accomplished.

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