Rajasthan Assembly passes Gujjar quota bill

Last Updated 13 February 2019, 14:07 IST

The Congress government led by Ashok Gehlot passed an amendment Bill on Wednesday to provide 5 % quota to Gurjars and four other communities—Raika-Rebari, Gadia Luhar, Banjara and Gadari.

The move comes six days after Gujjar community in Rajasthan paralysed road and rail traffic which has put commuting to a standstill in various parts of states.

The energy and art and culture minister BD Kalla, state minister who introduced the amendment bill, Rajasthan Other Backward Class (seats in state’s educational institutes, jobs and posts reservation) (Amendment) Bill, 2019, after Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot presented a vote on account for 2019-20 told DH, "The five castes are most likely to be included in the OBC category raising the existing limit of 21 per cent quota to 26 per cent. Sections 3 and 4 of the existing bill will be amended".

The statement on the objective and reasons of the bill says that the five castes are most backward and require five per cent separate reservation. It also mentions that the Central government recently passed the constitution amendment bill and the limit of 50 per cent reservation was increased.

Rajasthan's Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot said after passing the bill now state government will approach the Central government for an amendment in the Constitution which would make its implementation possible. Last month, the Centre had passed the bill that provided for 10 per cent reservation in jobs and education for the economically weaker sections in the general category. The bill was introduced as a constitutional amendment, which made the quota legally valid.

"Parliament has just given 10 per cent quota to the Economically Backward Classes recently. Also, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have crossed fifty per cent quota. After we passed the bill in the state, our next step will be to knock the doors of centre. Congress party will in person meet BJP party chief Amit Shah to ensure the bill is passed in Lok Sabha", Pilot said.

Gujjars and four other communities having 1 per cent quota will merge into the fresh 5 per cent in the OBC category. The quota limit will go up to 54 per cent. Rajasthan has already touched the 50 per cent ceiling on reservation placed by the Supreme Court. "

Gujjar community continues to protest

The Gujjar community who is protesting from last six days by blocking rail and road traffic have decided not to vacate the tracks unless the bill draft and its legalities are explained to them by the state government. "Earlier also we were assured reservation twice, the bill was passed and later challenged in the court. This time Congress government in Rajasthan needs to assure us that this bill passed by the Rajasthan assembly will not be challenged further. We will not vacate the tracks until we get satisfied", Col Kirodi Singh Bainsla, President of Gujjar Sangharsh Samiti, who is spearheading the protest told DH. The Gujjar agitation entered the sixth day in Rajasthan on Wednesday and continued to hamper rail and road traffic across the state.

The Gujjar community had threatened Congress government to withdraw their support in Lok Sabha elections if five per cent reservation as mentioned in its election manifesto is not granted.

The Gujjars who comprise around 8 per cent of Rajasthan's population were the traditional supporters of the BJP. Two time BJP-led governments in the state granted them quota but were struck down by the Rajasthan High Court.

The community which is at present covered under the quota for Other Backward Classes has been demanding an extra 5 per cent quota since 2006. In 2017, when the Vasundhara Raje government gave Gujjars 5 per cent reservation as a Most Backward Class and expanded the OBC quota to 26 per cent.

(Published 13 February 2019, 12:15 IST)

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