The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Rajasthan on Sunday suspended two of its Gujjar MLAs, who had participated in a community meeting to demand tribal status, for anti-party activities.
"The decision to suspend MLAs Attar Singh Bhadana and Prahlad Gunjal was taken after they participated in a Gujjar maha panchayat (mass meeting in Ranpur village of Kota district) on Saturday," Kailash Nath Bhatt, state BJP spokesperson, told IANS on Sunday.
The maha panchayat had decided that it would not allow Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje to enter her home district of Jhalawar till a high-powered committee on the community's demands does not submit its report. At the meeting, the Gujjars also decided that if the report was not favourable, no member of the community would vote for her. And if the report was not submitted within the stipulated three months, they would launch an agitation from September 4 to press for tribal status.
"The party has taken the matter seriously and asked the MLAs to reply in seven days," Bhatt said. "We have also asked 20 other party workers and leaders including cabinet ministers Kirori Lal Meena, Kalu Lal Gujjar and Virendra Meena to maintain discipline," Bhatt said.
The ministers of the rival Meena community, which enjoys tribal status and its accompanying benefits, had openly said that they would not tolerate any move to include Gujjars as tribals. The Gujjar minister, Kalu Lal Gujjar, had threatened to resign if his community was not granted tribal status.
In Rajasthan, Meenas are a dominant tribal community constituting between 12-14 percent of the state's population. They have been enjoying Scheduled Tribe status since 1950s.
Gujjars launched violent protests in the state from May 29-June 4 demanding tribal status that would fetch them better job and educational opportunities.
The agitation paralysed Rajasthan for a week with major roads blocked and train services disrupted. At least 25 people were killed and hundreds injured in the violence.
On June 4, the state government and Gujjars reached an understanding, according to which a retired high court judge would head a three-member high-powered committee to look into the demands. The committee is to submit its report in three months.