Sachin Pilot accuses BJP of 'mishandling' Gujjar issue

Updated on May 30, 2007 11:17 PM IST
The AICC criticises the police firing and accuses the Rajasthan Govt of failing to maintain law and order, reports Saroj Nagi.
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Hindustan Times | BySaroj Nagi, New Delhi

Sachin Pilot, Lok Sabha MP from Dausa, has accused the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Rajasthan of ``callousness’’ in handling the Gujjar reservation issue and demanded imposition of President’s Rule in the state if she fails to resigns.

On a brief visit to the Capital before returning to Rajasthan, Pilot plans to present a report on the situation in the state to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Congress president Sonia Gandhi after visiting Kothputli, Bundi and other trouble spots.

The AICC, on its part, condemned the brutal police firing and alleged that the Rajasthan government has failed in its constitutional duty of maintaining law and order. ``The entire responsibility of loss of life and misery lies with the chief minister and the Rajasthan government,’’ said spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan. The AICC has sent a team, led by Satyavrat Chaturvedi, to the state for an on-the- spot study of the situation.

Pilot alleged that not a single state government official had visited these areas where 14 people were killed in clashes and police firing when the Gujjar community demonstrated to demand scheduled tribe status. The firing on the unarmed crowd was ``unprovoked’’ and took place in the morning when the crowd was still gathering, he said.

``This is the 16 th incident of firing by this government against protestors,’’ he said, demanding the resignation of the Vasundhara Raje government and imposition of President’s Rule in the state.
Pilot hit out at BJP government for not holding talks with the protestors though the dead bodies continue to lie where the firing took place and the agitation was spreading in Rajasthan and neighbouring states. He denied that the Congress was behind the blockades.

``It is a community movement, a social movement….It includes everyone,’’ he said.
Gujjars comprise 10 percent of +the population in the state, are a factor in 30-35 of the 200 assembly segments in the state and influence the outcome in seven of the 25 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state.

According to the MP, the situation took the turn it did in the state because Gujjars were promised ST status ``election after election’’ without anything being done about it.

Many in the Congress believe that BJP government would have made an announcement to this effect before the 2008 assembly elections to gain political benefit while putting the ball in the Centre’s court.

According to procedure, certain norms have be met before a community can get the ST status. Besides, the state government has to give a report to the Centre seeking such a status. After Parliament gives its approval can the move gain sanction.

Pilot pitched for reservations for the Gujjar community in Rajasthan since they have got the ST tag in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh which share the same lifestyle, culture and food habits. ``Till such time reservation policy exists, communities complying with the required norms should be given reservation," he said.

He emphasised that the Gujjars did not want to snatch away the rights of others but want their due share in the quota regime. Reacting to queries, he denied that it would lead to a backlash from other communities.

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