M A I N   N E W S

Cabinet clears reservation for Jats
Rahul’s anti-graft Bills put on hold
Seemandhra gets special category status
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 2
Ahead of the General Election, the Congress-led UPA government today came up with sops for the Jat community and SC/STs and approved changes to the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill to give Seemandhra “special category status”.

It decided against taking the ordinance route for anti-corruption Bills being pushed by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

The long-drawn out “special meeting” of the Union Cabinet ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the BIMSTEC summit in Myanmar did take up the pet issue of the Congress vice-president’s push for the anti-graft Bills, but decided against taking the “ordinance” route apparently due to the reservations expressed by President Pranab Mukherjee.

The Cabinet decision on Jats makes them part of the OBC list and gives the community reservation in central government jobs and educational institutions, a demand that came from nine states -- Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand and Bihar.

The Union Cabinet also cleared amendments to the SC/ST Act. It will take the ordinance route in this regard. The decision regarding the division of Andhra Pradesh gives special status to Seemandhra -- the region that will form the residuary state once Telangana is carved out as India’s 29th state.

As reported first by The Tribune, the government would also take the ordinance route for these changes in the Andhra Pradesh Re-organisation Bill.

The government made three amendments to the Andhra Pradesh Re-organisation Bill which includes giving the special category status for five years to the successor state of Andhra Pradesh or the Seemandhra region and directed the Planning Commission to implement the decision.

The special meeting of the Union Cabinet had been called ostensibly for taking up the anti-graft Bills which could not be cleared in the extended winter session of Parliament due to disturbances which marred the proceedings in both Houses forcing the government to think of taking the ordinance route to clear them.

However, developments through out yesterday and today finally forced the government to decide against taking the short route to clear the Bills, which was also being objected to by the Opposition parties.

Addressing the media after the meeting, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari, while blaming the Opposition parties for not allowing the passage of the anti-graft Bills in the just-ended Parliament session, said, “There was a discussion on the anti-graft Bills and since they are very important legislations, it was advisable and decided that full deliberations be allowed on them by the legislature before they are translated into reality”.

The anti-graft Bills were being seen as Congress last-ditch efforts to reclaim the anti-corruption plank, seen to be appropriated by Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party and Narendra Modi's BJP in the run-up to national elections due by May.

Rahul had called for the ordinance route to get these legislations into effect. The UPA had tried hard to pass the Bills on the last day of the extended winter session of Parliament but the House was adjourned sine die.

The Cabinet decisions came after hectic consultation between the top UPA ministers and Congress leaders during the weekend. AK Antony, Sushilkumar Shinde and Ahmed Patel met PM Manmohan Singh at his residence before the meeting. The Prime Minister's Principal Secretary Pulok Chatterjee also attended the meet.

Yesterday, Shinde and Law Minister Kapil Sibal met President Pranab Mukherjee who had expressed his reluctance to sign the legislations days before the announcement of Lok Sabha elections. 

Jat vote bank

  • Jats are mainly spread over Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, UP, Delhi, MP and Uttarakhand. The community's population is over 8 crore
  • Jats are a deciding factor in 30 Lok Sabha seats
  • In Haryana, Jats have a sizeable 22% vote share
  • Justice KC Gupta as the Haryana State Backward Classes Commission's head called for 10% quota for five castes, including Jats
  • In Rajasthan, the community comprises 11% of voters
  • In western UP, the community is 17% of the population

Jats have been demanding reservation since the days of Mandal Commission. They have strived hard. I am grateful to the Prime Minister for accepting their demand.
—Bhupinder Singh Hooda, haryana cm

It's an election stunt. Why has the government chosen to accept the demand on the eve of elections?
—Ram Bilas Sharma, haryana bjp chief





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