The refusal to accept a key demand of Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), an electoral ally of the Congress, has created a piquant situation for the party in the western UP. After sewing up alliance with Congress and announcement of 4.5% reservation for Muslims, the RLD was quite optimistic that the Jat community’s demand for reservation would also be met.
The well-entrenched Jat community (population approximately 30 lakh) has been agitating in the state for the last two years for reservation in central government.
“Non-inclusion could be damaging in western UP”, said a senior RLD leader, requesting anonymity. The RLD fears that BSP and BJP could try fuel discontent on the issue.
However, after the meeting of civil aviation minister Chaudhury Ajit Singh with union home minister P Chidambaram last week, the party leaders are hopeful that the issue would be resolved after election. “Had it been done now it would have largely helped the party,” said the leader.
While the RLD has, over the years, thrived on Jat-Muslim combination in western UP, the BSP had been making determined efforts to dent its base and bring the community closer to Jatavs in western UP. Chief minister Mayawati had shot off letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in September 2011 supporting demand for Jat reservation.
Even though the RLD and Congress are expecting electoral gains after alliance, reports from western UP indicated that there was simmering discontent in the community over rejection of its demand. The state government had included Jats in the list of backward communities in 2000 and later the central government had included Jat community of Rajasthan in the list. In view of educational and social similarities of the community in both states, Jats of UP have been demanding inclusion in central quota lists as well.
Jat community had resorted to train blockade between Lucknow and Delhi near Amroha in March 2011. So far the RLD had tight grip over the community. In order to win over the community the chief minister had also agreed to formation of three districts — Prabudha Nagar, Panchsheel Nagar and Bhim Nagar — in western UP in September 2011.