Millennium Post

Fogging minds for votes

The Union cabinet’s statement that it has asked the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) to give its view for inclusion of Jats in the Central list of OBCs was nothing but a desperate attempt to fog the community’s mind with an ulterior motive to draw votes for a hoax job.

The statement was loaded with falsehood and the sycophants making congratulatory notes to local leadership in Haryana have no legs to stand on if confronted with facts in this regard. As per the statute of The National Commission for Backward Classes Act (1993), NCBC is the only relevant and competent forum for deciding any matter of inclusion of any caste as socially and educationally backward class and no other forum including the Ministry for Social Justice and Empowerment and the Union Cabinet have overriding say in this regard. The Union Cabinet can only seek an advice from NCBC and recommendations of the Commission shall ordinarily be binding on the Central government. Hence, it is crystal clear that the Central government on its own cannot declare any caste as backward. What makes it trickier is that in 2011 the NCBC had rejected the case of Jats of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for inclusion in the Central list on the ground that it cannot entertain the request from those castes whose request for inclusion has once been turned down by it.

Interestingly, then neither the Centre nor the Congress government in Haryana showed any sympathy with the community. The community heightened its agitation which sadly resulted into loss of few precious young lives. But the Congress regime remained a mute spectator.

In the meantime, when things aggravated further as other states united in the agitation, the NCBC amended it rules in 2011 [NCBC (Power to Review Advice) Rules 2011] and decided to re-consider requests for inclusion of the Jat community after collection of additional socio-economic data through Indian Council for Social Sciences Research (ICSSR) which is in the process of collecting data on the matter – and the Cabinet ‘staged’ an intervention into the process last week.

It is also pertinent to mention here that in 2005, the NCBC had rejected the demand of Jats in Delhi also for inclusion in the Central list – on basis of a study conducted by none other than the ICSSR.  Now the catch is while the Centre and Haryana government went into slumber on the issue after rejection of demand in 2011, what motherly feeling evoked in their bosom all of a sudden now?
No prizes for guessing! After the ignominious defeat in the recent assembly elections in Rajasthan, MP, Chhattisgarh and Delhi which have sizable Jat population, the Congress party jumped back to its caste arithmetic with Lok Sabha elections on mind and thus this ‘fog’.

Communal Violence Bill is another such instance of Congress party’s caste arithmetic for vote-bank politics. As good chunks of minority voted against Congress in the recent assembly elections, it brought up Communal Violence Bill in a jiffy without due diligence and discussions with the other parties. The Bill is logically bankrupt and is intricately engineered for minority appeasement and cleavage politics with the objective of grabbing votes for doing no good to the community.
In a prelude to the Lok Sabha elections the Prime Minister had constituted a Group of Ministers (GoM) in August 2013 under the Chairmanship of P Chidambaram with Home and Social Justice Ministers (Sushil Kumar Shine and Kumari Selja) as its members with the mandate to engage with the representatives of Jat community and apprise the government of the progress of the ICSSR survey being conducted  in the six states.

Interestingly, in November 2013, the PM resorted to write (rather than discussing it) to the GoM to expedite the Jat reservation issue while also asking if anything other than a fresh survey to determine the backwardness of Jats could be considered. This was when assembly elections were due in the four states. Now, as the Congress faced the historic drubbing in all the four states, it is spreading clouds of misinformation to create confusion in the community with malafide intent of garnering votes. The bubble about the request made by the Union Cabinet to NCBC last week is that the Cabinet just approved a suggestion of the GoM which is like this ‘Jats are already included in the State list of OBCs in nine States. Formal reports of State Backward Class Commissions (counterpart of NCBC in States) on the subject for the States of Haryana (2012) and Himachal Pradesh (2002) and research material relating to socio-economic status of farming communities in Northern India and caste, land, and political power in Uttar Pradesh are available. These may contain valuable and relevant material which can be utilized by the NCBC to give its advice on the demand for inclusion of Jats in the Central list of OBCs in the States of Gujarat, Haryana, HP, MP, Rajasthan (two districts Dhaulpur and Bharatpur), UP, Delhi, Uttarakhand and Bihar.’

Clearly then it has no merit for the reasons as followed: Firstly, it is purely advisory in nature and has no gravity. Secondly, the Central Government is trying to bypass the legitimate procedure of NCBC which may leave potential legal loopholes for judiciary intervention in future – making the whole exercise infructuous. This reckless, desperate move by Congress has both subjective and objective issues attached to it. Congress wants the NCBC to fast-track its recommendations on Jat reservation by abandoning the ICSSR survey in six states and substitute it with reports of some State Commissions and some other matter of secondary nature which are very old and may not be relevant now. The move is also objectively flawed: Firstly, the NCBC can’t be forced to decide on the backwardness on the basis of reports of the State Commissions. Secondly, there is no precedence of the NCBC making its recommendations on the basis of report of the State Commissions. Thirdly, the NCBC has already been mandated with the task of ascertaining the backwardness of Jats through ICSSR survey, which is more legitimate, comprehensive and relevant. These facts expose the Congress intention and show that it is nothing but lip-service.      

The author is national spokesperson of BJP
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