Prakash Bhandari, Jaipur: Deft handling by the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) and lack of enthusiasm of the Gujjar community caused the failure of the Mahapanchayat (convention). The Gujjar Mahapanchayat was convened at Adda in Bharatpur district, but it was ill-timed.
The Gujjar Mahapanchayat was convened after a gap of two years to discuss issues related to reservation for the community. But, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot took preventive actions to convince Gujjar leader Col Kirori Singh Bainsala to go slow on his demand. Timely action by Gehlot, who sent an emissary Neeraj Pawan, a bureaucrat, worked in the government’s favour.
The Rajasthan government had made elaborate preparations to ensure there was no untoward incident. The deployment of large scale police force at Adda and the guarding of the railway properties by the large Railway Protection Force (RPF) made the Gujjar community panicky.
The Gujjar Mahapanchayat that was expected to draw a crowd of 20,000 could barely attract 2,000 people. One more reason for the poor attendance was most of the farmers were busy in harvesting. They took no interest and responded poorly to the community’s call.
The proactive CMO led by the chief secretary Rajeeva Swaroop, home secretary Abhay Kumar, acting DGP ML Lather, principal secretary to the chief minister Kuldeep Ranka, finance secretary Niranjan Arya, two IAS officers Neeraj Pawan and Sidharth Sihag worked as an efficient team to combat the situation.
As the community leader did not invite Congress leader Sachin Pilot, the chief minister deputed sports minister Ashok Chandana, who is a Gujjar, to help the team in working out a strategy.
It forced the Gujjar leader Col Kirori Singh Bainsala to go on backfoot. His son Vijay Singh Bainsala, however, was there to oversee the arrangement during the Mahapanchayat.
Col Bainsala, who came to address the Mahapanchayat four hours late, reiterated the community’s demand on the reservation and the Mahapanchayat which was expected to have a five to six-hour session ended in a fiasco in just over an hour.
Col Bainsala gave an ultimatum to the government that if their demands were not met, the community would go on agitation from November 1. But this announcement by Col Bainsala also met with a lukewarm response as the community leaders were not keen to start an agitation just before Diwali.
Moreover, there are issues related to the reservation and the Union government will have to introduce an amendment in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution to give full benefit of reservation.
The BJP was accused of not helping the cause of the Gujjar at the level of the Union government.
Vijay Singh Bainsala criticised BJP’s Lok Sabha MPs for not taking up the issue of Gujjar reservation in the Parliament. Vijay said that the BJP MPs should take up the issue at the level of the Prime Minister to ensure that the community gets its due.
One of the speakers in the Mahapanchayat, Antar Singh, was critical of Sachin Pilot. He accused him of not supporting the Gujjar’s demand for reservation. He said Pilot was merely focusing on becoming the chief Minister without caring for the community. He said it was the Gujjar community that extended him overwhelming support which helped the Congress form government in Rajasthan.
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