History repeats itself as yet another Central govt faces a Jat stir

  • Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 22, 2016 15:15 IST
Jat quota agitation protestors sit on the Rohtak road in Sampla. This is not the first time that a Central government has faced protests from the community. (Ravi Choudhary/ HT Photo)

The BJP-led NDA government is not the first administration to face the wrath of the Jat community, which is on the warpath seeking reservation quotas in jobs and educational institutions.

The latest crisis also gave sleepless nights to the UPA leadership during the previous Congress-led government. And before that, the first NDA government led by Vajpayee had to face the same issue.

While the present-day agitation, which has left at least 15 people dead, has largelt confined its demands to the inclusion of Jats in Haryana’s state list of reserved categories, the UPA government had faced protests for the community’s inclusion in the central list of Other Backward Castes (OBCs).

To address the quota stir, the UPA government had announced the inclusion of Jats from nine states in the central quota of OBC, weeks before the 2014 general election. These states were Haryana, Gujarat, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.

The National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) had previously gone back on its own report and approved a “social and cultural study” to see if Jats across states should be included in the central OBC list. The first report of the NCBC had rejected the claims that Jats should be included in the OBC category to warrant reservations in government job and education.

But even before the second report came out, the UPA cabinet quickly announced its decision to include Jats from nine states in the OBC quota. The NCBC later clarified that they did not recommend the same.

The first NDA government led by Atal Behari Vajpayee had also witnessed unrest over the long-pending demand of the Jats. In 1999, the then Vajpayee government had included only Jats of Rajasthan (excluding two districts) in the central OBC.

The Jat population in India is believed to be around 82.5 million. In UP, the caste comprises less than 6% of the population, but their high numbers in the state’s western part affects more than 50 assembly seats.

States including Rajasthan and UP have already granted Jats OBC status in their respective state lists. Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are among the other states that consider Jats as OBC.

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