'Gehlot's reservation move a symbolic step'

JAIPUR MAY 22. The Social Justice Front, spearheading the agitation in Rajasthan for reservation for "upper castes'' on the basis of their economic status, has welcomed the Gehlot Government's decision to recommend 14 per cent reservation for the category terming it as a "good beginning''. But the front has pointed out that the decision falls short of its demand for a division in the OBC so that any particular caste does not take away all the benefits.

The convener of the SJF, Lokendra Singh Kalvi, told mediapersons here today that the decision of the Rajasthan Cabinet yesterday was a positive step but rather "symbolic''. "I don't have much hope about its materialising. It is going to be similar to the pending Bill on women's reservation in Parliament.''

``The State is not competent enough to take such a decision. The possible course of action could be — as it was done in Tamil Nadu — to pass a resolution in the Assembly and forward it to Parliament for approval,'' Mr. Kalvi suggested. "Laloo Yadav has created three categories of OBCs. In Tamil Nadu, it is five,'' he observed. Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have gone beyond the 50 per cent norm of the Supreme Court in reservations to accommodate OBCs, he pointed out.

Mr. Kalvi said he was happy as finally "our voices are heard. The political parties are taking us seriously. But for the desired result we will keep the agitation on''. The SJF had suspended its agitation on May 20 till talks are held between its representatives and BJP leaders here later this month. There are talks scheduled with Congress leaders in Delhi also.

``We will decide our next course of action after May 26. We are open for talks and we don't want any violence,'' Mr. Kalvi said. "Nothing has been done about the injustice perpetrated on the castes who were on the OBC list prior to the entry of Jats in 1999. It was because of this political opportunism on the part of the Centre — and later on the part of the State as well — that this kind of social unrest has been created.''

``I request Ashok Gehlot and Vasundhararaje Scindia not to deprive OBCs of the first category by making politically-oriented decisions,'' Mr. Kalvi said. His contention was that the State Cabinet, along with the decision on 14 per cent reservation to economically weak among the forward castes, had also rejected the demand for categorisation of existing OBCs fixing quotas for various groups within the 21 per cent allocated for them.

``This looks to me more like a game of football. Now Mr. Gehlot thinks that the ball is in the BJP court.

The Jan Sangh has been advocating reservation based on economic status for the past 50 years. Now let us see how they respond,'' Mr. Kalvi noted.

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