‘Like Ambedkar, I Too Have Been Branded Political’

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Rajasthan BJP leader Kirori Singh Bainsla tells Shobhita Naithani his goal is quotas for Gujjars, not targeting the Congress government

 

Photo: Salman

How do you expect the Rajasthan government to possibly exceed Supreme Court’s 50 percent reservation limit?
Constitutionally the government cannot exceed the limit. And legally it cannot deny us 5 percent reservation. If the government really wants to and has the will power to grant us that, no one can stop it.

Will you settle for a quota less than 5 percent?
Right now Rajasthan already has 49 percent reservation. For a permanent solution, the Gujjars are willing to settle for reservation within 50 percent. I am not rigid about being given reservation outside of that. Now it’s for the committee appointed by the High Court to decide.

Neither the Meenas (within ST) nor the Jats (within OBC) agree to share their quota pie. What is the alternative?
Do we have fair governance in the country? Meenas and Jats are powerful communities; therefore the government is afraid of alienating them.

Why are you rigid in your demand to halt recruitment for the 80,000 government posts? Departments will come to a standstill if there is shortage of staff.
We don’t want to deprive other communities from this recruitment drive. But at the same time, I don’t want my people to be deprived of their genuine dues.

In the past, you have agreed to scale down your demand for reservation. Would you step down this time as well?
No. When other communities are not willing to part with their quotas, how do you expect me to settle for something lesser than 5 percent? I am not asking for the moon.

‘Meenas and Jats are powerful communities — the government is afraid of alienating them’

Earlier, you relinquished your demand for an ST status.
That’s because I am ready to cooperate with the government. I don’t want my community to suffer.

There are allegations that you are acting at the behest of Vasundhara Raje to target the Congress government?
When I launched the agitation, Raje was the chief minister. Was I with the Congress at that time? The doubt was created because I contested the Lok Sabha polls on a BJP ticket.

Do you regret contesting that election?
Not at all. Had Bhim Rao Ambedkar not joined politics, could he have done so much for his community? I’ll take part in polls again. But on quotas, I am not with any party.

Still, you are a political person now. You enjoy the status of a special invitee in the BJP National Executive.
Like Ambedkar, I too have been branded political. But my primary aim is to safeguard the interests of my people. I do not hobnob with any political party on the issue of quota.

Are you satisfied with the state government’s special package of scholarships and training for Gujjar youth?
This is not something new. The same package was given to Gujjars by the Digvijay Singh government in Madhya Pradesh. We want jobs, security and educational opportunities. Rs 280 crore was sanctioned at the time of the BJP government in Rajasthan. Where is that money?

As part of the BJP, you should be able to find out now.
(Laughs) Whether fair or foul, I am forever branded BJP.

Every year, why do you choose summer to launch your protests?
Farmers are free at this time as the harvest season is over.

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