A fresh round of agitation by Jats which erupted in Haryana over their demand to get reservation in jobs and educational institutions under the other backward classes (OBCs) has perplexed the first time BJP government in the state.
The acerbic remarks of anti-quota proponent BJP MP, Rajkumar Saini and his war of words with finance minister Capt Abhimanyu, himself a Jat leader, over the quota issue has not helped the ruling party’s cause either.
While the Jat leaders in the BJP were able to convince the quota supporters laying siege to railway tracks in Hisar’s Mayyar to lift their dharna, another set of Jats have laid siege at Rohtak, blocking roads leading to the national capital and railway tracks. That’s not all. UP-based chief of All India Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti Yashpal Malik has reiterated his resolve to lay siege at Mayyar on February 21.
The opposition parties — the Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) — have blamed the BJP government for not being able to address the issue appropriately. Former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda even took credit for resolving the reservation issue amicably during his rule.
Supreme court quashed OBC quota for Jats
The Supreme Court had in March 2015 quashed the decision of the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre to provide reservation to Jats under OBC of the central government. In their order justices Ranjan Gogoi and Rohinton Fali Nariman of the apex court said: “We cannot agree with the view taken by the Union government that Jats in nine states in question is a backward community so as to be entitled to inclusion in the central lists of OBCs. The view taken by the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) to the contrary is adequately supported by good and acceptable reasons which furnished a sound and reasonable basis for further consequential action on the part of the Union government. In the above situation we cannot hold the notification of March 4, 2014 to be justified. Accordingly the aforesaid notification including the Jats in the central list of Other Backward Classes for Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, NCT of Delhi, Bharatpur and Dholpur districts of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand is set aside and quashed.”
Haryana special backward class quota also stayed
Another expected setback to the Jats came in the form of the order of the Punjab and Haryana High court in July 2015 which stayed the decision of the Hooda government to grant 10% reservation to Jats, Jat-Sikhs, Bishnois, Rors and Tyagis under the special backward classes (SBC) category.
“The reservation was given by Haryana on the basis of Justice KC Gupta Commission’s report. The said report was not accepted by Supreme Court, whereby reservation for Jat community in the central list of Other Backward Classes was set aside. Keeping in view the apex court’s judgment; the fact that Justice KC Gupta Commission’s report was not accepted by SC, and also keeping in view the dismissal of review application by the SC, we restrain Haryana to give any employment in government service and admission in educational institution on the basis of the impugned notifications,” said a HC bench of justices SK Mittal and HS Sidhu.
Practically, there is nothing much that the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre and Manohar Lal Khattar government in Haryana can do to address the quota demands of Jats, except, may be, save the situation by offering far-fetched assurances such as if the Jats in other eight states get reservation under OBC quota, then Jats of Haryana would also be included in the OBC list. “It is like a game of who blinks first.
The Jats are arm twisting the government. The state government does not seem to have any option but to try to calm them down to avoid violence and bloodshed,’’ said an official posted in a district and privy to negotiations on quota.
SC hit the nail on the head
While the Congress led UPA government, with an eye on forthcoming Lok Sabha polls in 2014, had ignored the NCBC advice (NCBC rejected the request for inclusion of Jats in the central list of OBC) and ordered reservation for Jats, the Supreme court in its March 2015 order virtually sealed the issue. “The observations in Indra Sawhney case and the expressed provisions contained in Section 9 of the NCBC Act clearly indicate that the advice tendered by the NCBC is ordinarily binding on the government meaning thereby that the same can be overruled or ignored only for strong and compelling reasons, expected to be available in writing,’’ the apex court ruled.
Jats power quotient
Jats constitute 26% of Haryana’s electorate and is the single most powerful and politically influential community. There are 25 to 30 assembly seats (out of a total 90) in the state where Jat and Jat Sikh candidates are fielded in assembly polls as they affect the poll outcome.