BJP will not include Gujjar demand for ST status, in manifesto

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Jaipur, Sep 15 (UNI) The ruling BJP today ruled out the possibility of inclusion of its assurance for ST status for Gujjars, in its election manifesto for the next assembly election in Rajasthan, due to be held by the end of 2008.

The party also alleged that previous Ashok Gehlot Government in the state had mishandled the issue, making it ''further complicated'' and asked the Congress to clarify whether it intended to include this issue in its election manifesto.

Talking to reporters here today, BJP state President Dr Mahesh Sharma said that inclusion of any new community in the ST list was neither a state subject nor it was possible for any single party to implement it on its own.

''The process for the task is very lengthy and complicated requires involvement of the states as well as the Centre and finally, a constitutional amendment,'' he said.

''Therefore, no political party can assure on its own to any community in this regard and accordingly BJP can not include the issue in its election manifesto'', he added.

Mr Sharma said that it was the Bhairon Singh Shekhawat government which accorded OBC status to Gujjar community during its regime in 1993-98. Later during the subsequent Ashok Gehlot Government's rule, the Gujjar community had launched agitation for ST status and the then Gehlot Government had mishandled the issue, he alleged '' Mr Gehlot had neither held comprehensive dialogue with the Centre over this issue nor had they responded properly the Centre's correspondence in this regard,'' he charged.

He said that proper handling of the issue could have solved it but instead the Congress government had added further complications to it.

The BJP state chief took exception to the participation of certain Congress leaders, including MP Sachin Pilot and MLA and former Minister Govind Singh Gujjar, in the Gujjar Mahapanchayats and said that the party should explain whether it had changed its policy on the issue.

Mr Sharma said that the holding of Gujjar Mahapanchayats was violation of the June 4 agreement between the Gujjar Action Committee and the state government and the Gujjar community should not organise such programmes.

He said that certain outsider political forces were backing and sponsoring these panchayats(congregations) to hijjack the Gujjar movement for realising their vested political aspirations.

He justified tbe extension of term to Chopra Committee, constitituted to examine the Gujjar community's demand of ST status and said that Gujjar Reservation Action Committee leaders were also given their consent during the signing of agreement in this regard.

He also counselled the Gujjar community to give up their plan to launch Jail Bharo agitation to press for their demand from October 2 next and said instead they should give three months time to the Chopra Committee and work to make logical representations and submission before the committee.

UNI

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