Sops for Gujjars, tribals in Rajasthan amid tussle
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot has declared that August 9, observed as World Tribal Day,would be a public holiday, and decided to reserve 5% of jobs in judicial service jobs for the most backward classes (MBCs), including the Gujjars, as he attempts to keep his flock of MLAs together in the face a rebellion by his former deputy Sachin Pilot.
The Congress government in Rajasthan has been battling a crisis since July 12 when Pilot, a Gujjar, and 18 legislators loyal to him sought the removal of Gehlot, a demand resisted by the party leadership.
On Sunday night, Gehlot announced that World Tribal Day would be a public holiday in Rajasthan, meeting a longstanding demand of the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP). The two BTP MLAs are camping with 100 legislators supporting Gehlot in a Jaisalmer hotel. All the MLAs, along with Gehlot, reached Jaisalmer on Friday after having stayed in a Jaipur hotel since July 12.
BTP announced its support to the government on July 18 and had submitted a letter containing 17t demands, days after BTP national party chief Mahesh C Vasava issued a whip asking the party MLAs to stay neutral in the fight between the Gehlot and Pilot camps.
Congress leaders said the BTP MLAs decided to support the Congress after Gehlot assured them that all their demands would be met once stability returns to this government and there would be no dearth of funds for development projects in their constituencies.
“It was a long-pending demand and we are thankful to the CM for fulfilling it,” BTP’s state president Velaram Ghogra said of the Sunday night announcement . “We are hopeful that other demands will also be fulfilled.”
The decision to reserve 5% of jobs in judicial services for the MBCs, who include the Gujjars, is meant to send out a message that the Gehlot government was working for the upliftment of all communities despite Pilot’s rebellion. Gehlot had earlier announced 5% reservation for MBCs in other government jobs.
“The CM wants to send a message to Gujjar community that the Congress is with them if, in case, by-polls take place in the constituencies of the 19 rebel Congress MLAs,” said a senior Congress functionary, who requested anonymity.
There are eight Gujjar MLAs in Rajasthan assembly, including Pilot. All of them are from the Congress, including one who fought on a Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) ticket but later joined the Congress. In at least 10 of these 19 constituencies, the Gujjar community has a sizeable vote share.
Gujjar leader Himmat Singh said the decision has come at the time where there was some anger in the r community against the ouster of Pilot as state Congress president and deputy CM. “The decision would offset that anger to some extent,” he said, welcoming the decision.
The two decisions came days after Gehlot assured the MLAs at a Congress legislature party meeting that their local area funds, meant for development works in their constituencies, would be restored soon and bureaucrats in the state administration would cooperate with them in implementing projects.
“The CM has assured the MLAs that there would be no dearth of money for developmental works in their constituencies and all their grievances would be sorted out,” said the Congress leader quoted above.
Political analyst Narayan Bareth said Gehlot would use the days before the start of the assembly session on August 14 to send a message that all is well with his government.
“I see more such decisions in the coming days. The latest decisions are an attempt to save the government,” Bareth said.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Mukesh Pareek said many promises made by the Gehlot government, including an unemployment allowance, relief for farmers and regularization of contractual employment, are still awaiting implementation. The government should also fulfil those promises, he said.
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