Bainsla Accepts Talks Offer, Sit-in to Continue

Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla, who on Sunday served a 24 hour ultimatum to the Rajasthan state government, accepted a parley offer extended by chief minister Ashok Gehlot on Monday, even as thousands of community members continued their sit-in in the Karauli district of the state for a second consecutive day.

Gehlot invited Gujjar leaders for talks after Bainsla gave his government a 24-hour ultimatum on Sunday while leading the “Mahapadav” (grand sit-in) to press for gubernatorial clearance of a pending reservation bill.

Gehlot said that his government had agreed, in principle, to five per cent quota for the community and other castes and invited Bainsla for dialogue.

Speaking to mediamen outside the state assembly, Gehlot said: “We have, in principle, agreed to five per cent reservation to Gujjars and other casts.”

He added that the proposal could only be implemented under legal and constitutional provisions, and confirmed that the Gujjar leader had been invited for talks.

Pandemonium prevailed in the state assembly as BJP members disrupted proceedings for nearly four hours, as Opposition legislators sought early passage of the Bill.

Bainsla later said he had accepted Gehlot’s invitation, but added that the sit-in will continue for at least the next 24 hours.

He said that the Gujjars, for the last eight months, had been requesting the Congress government to pursue the matter and get assent of Raj Bhawan at the earliest.

The Rajasthan SC, ST, OBC, Special Backward classes, and Economically Backward Classes Bill-2008 is awaiting the Governor’s approval.

The Bill was passed in the Assembly in July last after Bainsla led a Gujjar agitation to press for Scheduled Tribe status

At least 47 people were killed as a result of the agitation, which had spread to several other states and had even brought the National Capital Region (NCR) to a virtual stand-still.

The Bill provisions a 14 per cent reservation for the ECB (Economic Backward Class), which could only be granted after the parliament makes necessary amendments in the constitution, as the inclusion of the ECB would take the total quota to 68 per cent against the 50 per cent allowed by the constitution.

With the BJP vowing to stonewall any amendments to the Bill, reasoning with Bainsla is the only option open to the Congress state government and a failure of talks may well see Gehlot’s worries rise in proportion to the now infamous Gujjar temper.

Meanwhile, the BJP has called for a sit-in by party legislators in the Assembly till 1100 hrs tomorrow.

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