BJP urges UPA government to settle over Gujjars' quota demand

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New Delhi/ Lucknow/ Bayana (Rajasthan), June 3 : The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) put the ball back into the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's court over Gujjar community's quota demand on Tuesday.

Gujjar's are battling for college and government job quotas in Rajasthan and has been agitating since May 23 that has claimed 42 lives so far.

Union Law Ministry replying to the Home Ministry after the opinion on the reservation issue was sought by the Prime Minister's Office, said that the initiative in the regard has to be taken by the state government.

However, the BJP which is ruling in Rajasthan, said the decision regarding the Gujjar demand has to be taken by the Central government.

"The state government would be able to sort it out at the state level but whatever needs to be done has to be done, after all decision in this regard has to be done at the central level. So whatever statistics can be provided are being provided by the state government," said L K Advani, senior leader of BJP while replying to media after annual meeting of Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) in New Delhi.

In wake of the violence last week Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia had written to the Prime Minister recommending four to six per cent quota for the Gujjars, in the category of de-notified class of tribals and nomadic tribes.

Not satisfied with the Chief Minister's initiative, the Gujjars have been urging the central government to dismiss the Rajasthan government.

But the central government has rejected the demand. Minister of State for Home Affairs Shriprakash Jaiswal reiterated the government' stand about not sacking Rajasthan government over recent violence.

"We don't want that we have to use article 356 (of the Constitution) in any state. To maintain law and order in the state is the responsibility of the state government. The state government should immediately control law and order. The state in which government cannot control law and order can never develop," said Jaiswal on Tuesday in Lucknow.

However, Jaiswal added that the state government should take adequate steps to deal with the law and order situation.

The government reserves about half of all seats in state colleges and universities for lower castes and tribal groups to flatten centuries-old social hierarchies, in what has been called the world's biggest affirmative action scheme.

The scheme has been criticised for accentuating caste identities in India, where discrimination on caste is banned in the Constitution. Some critics say the quota system masks India's failure to provide good universal education and social equality.

The Gujjars fall into the Other Backward Classes grouping and seek to be reclassified under the Scheduled Tribes and Castes grouping.

A year ago, Gujjars in Rajasthan fought police and members of another caste that already qualifies for job quotas. At least 26 people were killed in that violence.

After these protests, a state government committee said it would spend 2.8 billion rupees improving schools, clinics, roads and other infrastructure in Gujjar areas. But Gujjars rejected this option.

ANI

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