The contentious move by the Rajasthan Government to go ahead with the recruitment process for 60,000 jobs in the State– even when the High Court is yet to decide on the quotas for the reserved categories– has been stayed by the Rajasthan Election Commission.

The poll body, which looked into the matter following a request by the State’s Department of Personnel, found it in violation of the existing model code of conduct in the State due to the ongoing panchayat elections.

The State Cabinet had taken the decision last week to go ahead with the recruitments on the basis of the existing quota systemto fill vacancies to various Government departments on a provisional basis. This was done after a move by the Government to recruit as per the new quota regime, which provides 5 per cent special reservation to Gujjars and 14 per cent to Economically Backward Classes, was stayed by the Rajasthan High Court. The Government’s plea in this regard was that the future of a large number of educated youth was being affected by the delay in recruitments.

A war of words had ensued between the ruling Congress and the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party over the move as the latter termed it as an attempt to woo the electorate prior the panchayat elections. At the same time Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla, who feared the move would hurt the interest of his community, had threatened with a renewed agitation to stop the recruitments in the present format.

The process of elections to the panchayats is on in a three-phased manner and is to last till the second week of February. The State Election Commission’s present decision would mean at least another two months for the renewal of the process—if at all it is to start again in the present form. In fact the Department of Personnel had not sought permission to the Election Commission for recruitments as such but had only requested for sanction to amend certain service rules as per the Rajasthan High Court’s order to carry on with recruitments.

As such the Government did not appear to be much worried about the stay on the recruitments as it thinks that the message has already gone to the public. “Our intentions were clear and the public knows it by now,” said a senior functionary in the Chief Minister’s Office. Even there appeared a sense of relief as the Congress party leaders conceded that the panchayat elections would now take place in a peaceful manner with Col. Bainsla unlikely to up the ante in the whole game of reservations.