Gujjars reject government’s invitation for talks
The stalemate between the state government and the Gujjars continued for the second day on Saturday as the Gujjar leader Kirodi Singh Bainsla, spearheading the stir, rejected the government invite for talks in Jaipur and said talks would only be held on the tracks in the open.
Tourism minister Vishvendra Singh assured that the government is committed to giving them 5% reservation and reached the protest spot at Malarna-Dungar station where Gujjars began their sit-in on Friday. He suggested that the Gujjars form a delegation for talks with the government representatives that could be held in Jaipur on Sunday. He said the CM had asked him to meet the Gujjars listen to their issues.
However, Bainsla said the government would have to come to the venue of the protest for talks.
Addressing the protestors, Singh said talks would not be feasible in the commotion. “We will hold talks at length and discuss all issues point by point,” he said. However, Bainsla refused Singh’s suggestion.
The state government came into action and formed a committee comprising Tourism minister Vishvendra Singh, Health and Family Welfare minister Raghu Sharma and Social Justice and Empowerment minister Bhanwarlal Meghwal and IAS Neeraj Pawan. Efforts will continue on Sunday as minister Raghu Sharma or minister Bhanwarlal Meghwal could join the dialogue. Talks are to be held on three issues — 5% quota, backlog in government jobs and increasing creamy layer to 8.5 lakh.
Meanwhile, Chief minister Ashok Gehlot, in a bind over the Gujjar reservation, put the ball in the Centre’s court. Gehlot, who was in Delhi for a meeting to discuss Congress candidates for the Lok Sabha polls, said the state government has done its bit on reservation and now the demand can only be fulfilled through an amendment in the Constitution for which the Gujjars should approach the Prime Minister and Union home minister.
Bainsla’s son, Vijay said that the Gujjars were feeling cheated and were angry. “Why should we talk to the Centre? The Congress is in power in the state. And it is the Congress which had in its manifesto promised reservation... Now after winning elections, they can’t dilly-dally. They should talk to the Centre and fulfill our demand...”.
The BJP criticised the government for failing to fulfil its promise of quota to Gujjars. Former BJP minister Arun Chaturvedi said the state government was shirking its responsibility and putting the onus on the Centre. He said “In the previous elections, the Congress promised reservations to Gujjars and four other communities. The Congress got votes on the basis of these promises... the Congress government is trying to run away from its responsibilities by putting the onus on the Centre.”