Even after facing vociferous opposition from Congress party’s Muslim leaders for extending poll eve reservations to Jats, the government on Friday went ahead notifying their inclusion in the central OBC list. The cabinet at a special meeting on Sunday had extended reservation facilities to Jats in nine states. The notification mentions that Muslim Jats in Gujarat are also included in the central list, but in other states of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Delhi, there is no mention of communal identity.
The poll eve sop extended to Jat community has also run into controversy, with the statutory National Commission of Backward Classes (NCBC) rubbishing the government's claim that the Cabinet decision was based on the advice of the commission. On December 19, the Cabinet had approached the Commission to seek its advice on extending reservation to Jats. The NCBC has put its 138-page report on its website <ncbc.nic.in> to clarify that it did not advice any such reservation and in fact "rejected" the Jats' case "as they are not socially and educationally backward communities."
The government clearly took the decision to woo the Jat voters who matter in Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and some other states, influencing the results in some 70 Lok Sabha constituencies. Though, the BJP has welcomed the government move, but the party managers are worried that it will upset their plans in at least 30 seats -- 10 in Haryana, 14 in western Uttar Pradesh and six in Rajasthan.
In its unanimous advice rendered on February 26, the NCBC headed by Justice Vangala Eswaraiah, a former acting chief justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court, held it has no doubt that Jats as a class cannot be treated as a backward class. Other commission members, who too were unanimous, on the advice are S K Kharventhan, A K Saini and A K Mangotra.
"Ethnically they are at a higher level; they are of Indo Aryan descent, their educational level is high; and the social status they command is far higher than the ordinary Shurdas....Even in the absence of reservation in the central services, Jats are adequately represented in the Armed Services, Government services and educational institutions and their literacy rate is also good," the NCBC advisory said.
Pointing out that only Jats of Rajasthan (except two districts of Bharatpur and Dhaulpur) were notified in the list of the central OBCs in October 1999, the NCBC underlined that the Jats of the state "are cornering all the central services of other backward classes and for example it is sated that in 2012, Jats of Rajasthan have cornered majority of central services, mainly IAS and other important services" showing that they are not socially and educationally backward.
Meanwhile, despite Jats being the domineering community and the land owners in Punjab, the Punjab Cabinet too decided before the model code to include them in the list of the state OBCs. The move was to silence former Congress chief minister Capt. Amarinder Singh trying to take political advantage by accusing the Parkash Singh Badal government of betraying the state's Jats by not pursuing their case for inclusion in the central OBC list.
In Lukhnow, just minutes before the elections were announced and the model code of conduct came into force, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Wednesday announced reservation to 17 most backward castes (MBCs) in the development, accusing the Centre sitting on the list sent for their inclusion in the central list of Scheduled Castes. The castes which will get the benefit in the state include Nishad, Malhar, Bhar, Batham, Turha, Kashyap, Kewat, Kumhar, Rajbhar, Prajapati, Deevar, Dheemar, Bind, Majhi, Gaund and Machhua.
In Haryana, Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda got 16 Bills passed by the Haryana Assembly last Tuesday in just one hour and 45 minutes in the last session before the elections in what was dubbed by the Opposition as the "sop opera" to beat the anti-incumbency ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.