Talks between the Rajasthan government and the Gujjars who have been agitating for Scheduled Tribe status, achieved a dramatic breakthrough on Tuesday evening, following which the 26-day-old agitation is likely to be called off on Wednesday.
With Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje joining the discussions for the first time, all differences were resolved during a marathon nine-hour meeting.
<b1>At a joint press conference after the talks, BJP leader Ramdas Agarwal, who had been leading the government delegation, and Gujjar leader Col Kirori Singh Bainsala, declared themselves satisfied, but refused to divulge details of the agreement reached. These will be made public by the chief minister herself on Wednesday.
But sources close to the discussions said the state government has proposed making two separate concessions. First it has suggested five per cent reservation for the community in the state services under an entirely new category which will leave the existing reserved quotas untouched. Secondly, it has agreed to write to the Centre recommending that Gujjars be included in the state’s list of STs for quota in central services.
According to Ranbir Singh Bidhuri, an NCP Gujjar MLA involved with the discussions, the recommendation draws attention to a December 1999 letter from the Centre to the state listing 14 additional castes and 23 more tribes for inclusion in the list of SCs and STs respectively. Gujjars are included among those 23 tribes. Yet this inclusion never actually took place.