Special Correspondent

Government, Gujjars identify “middle course” to resolve the quota issue

Community may get one per cent additional quota lying unused

Final decision only after High Court judgment, says Government

JAIPUR: On a day of hectic parleys, Gujjar supremo Kirori Singh Bainsla called off the community's agitation for reservation in government jobs after three-hour-long negotiations with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot here on Wednesday with both sides identifying a “middle course” to resolve the quota issue. They also agreed to abide by the Rajasthan High Court judgment in a public interest litigation in the matter.

Col. Bainsla headed straight for Madanpur village near Bayana in Bharatpur district where a ‘mahapadaav' (sit-in) was in progress after the meeting at Mr. Gehlot's official residence here and announced withdrawal of agitation in view of what he described as the State Government's “positive attitude” to the demand.

Emerging from the Chief Minister's residence, Col. Bainsla told reporters that the Government had agreed to give five per cent reservation to Gujjars and the only issue to be decided was its “execution”. He said the quota facility for Gujjars under the Other Backward Classes would continue with the community's share fixed at four per cent.

The Gujjars have been demanding implementation of a new legislation enacted by the previous BJP regime giving them five per cent reservation along with other nomadic tribes as a Special Backward Class. The High Court has since stayed the operation of the law on the ground of total reservation exceeding the 50 per cent limit mandated by the Supreme Court.

While describing the talks as “conclusive”, Col. Bainsla said a way out would be found for providing one per cent additional quota lying unused within the 50 per cent limit to provide a total of five per cent reservation to Gujjars. The community leaders had earlier suggested that Gujjars' share in the OBC quota be clubbed with the remainder of one per cent.

Government jobs

As regards the ongoing process of appointment to 80,000 posts in government service, the State Government has reportedly agreed to keep aside four per cent share for Gujjars under the OBC category and take a final decision on it after the High Court verdict.

The Government began high-level efforts to resolve the contentious reservation issue after Col. Bainsla threatened a renewed agitation and invited him for talks in Jaipur. The three members of a ministerial committee authorised to talk to the Gujjar leadership also took part in the negotiations.

Home Minister Shanti Dhariwal, one of the committee members, said after the meeting that the State Government would make all efforts for ensuring early hearing of the case in the High Court. “Final steps for providing reservation to Gujjars can be taken only after the High Court's judgment,” he said.

With the agitation being called off, the ‘padaavs' of local Gujjars in progress in different towns and on various State and national highways also dispersed.

The Gujjars, who had earlier started the march to the State capital from different directions, had stopped on the way with the expectation for a breakthrough.

In a statement here, Mr. Gehlot expressed gratitude to Col. Bainsla and his colleagues for conducting their agitation “peacefully”, except one or two isolated incidents of violence. “Though the State Government is bound by the High Court's stay in the matter, it is in favour of providing quota to Gujjars,” he affirmed.