Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections early next year, the government has decided to fast-track its proposal to provide reservation to Jats in central jobs in the category of other backward classes (OBCs).
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had set up a group of ministers (GoM) headed by finance minister P Chidambaram in August to look into the matter, has now asked the GoM to expedite its recommendations, HT has learnt. He wrote to the GoM last week, reminding it of the urgency of coming up with “legally sustainable recommendations” on the Jat job quota issue soon.
The GoM — made up of home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, social justice and empowerment minister Kumari Selja and minister of state for personnel V Narayansamy apart from Chidambaram — is, on its part, waiting for a report on the socio-economic conditions of Jats in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana.
This study, conducted by the Indian Council for Social Science Research on the request of the National Commission for Backward Castes, was earlier expected to be completed by January 2014 but has now been expedited.
The Congress leadership is under pressure from its ally, the Rashtriya Lok Dal led by civil aviation minister Ajit Singh, who has been pushing for the quota as he claims it would mean big electoral gains for the UPA in western UP, Haryana, Rajasthan and even Delhi.
Currently, Jats are designated as OBCs in some states like Delhi, Rajasthan and UP. They get the benefit of reservation in jobs in these states and have been demanding for many decades that this facility be extended to central government jobs.
The Congress government in Haryana is also in favour of the move and with the model code of conduct having come into force in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the next concrete announcement is expected in January.
The blueprint is to provide quota for Jats within the existing 27% limit for OBCs and the government hopes to meet its own deadline of coming up with the proposal before the general elections.