With the Jat quota agitation spreading in Haryana, the BJP Saturday reached out to protesters and said the Centre is ready to initiate the process of providing reservation.
The BJP leadership has asked its Jat leaders to mediate between the Manohar Lal Khattar government and agitating Jat leaders. The BJP has also decided to send a showcause notice to party MP from Kurukshetra Raj Kumar Saini for his remarks opposing reservation for Jats. Saini has threatened that he would resign if their demand for quota is met.
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Admitting that there is an “atmosphere of anarchy” in the state, Union Minister Birender Singh said, “We have been assured by our national leadership that we should go and speak with people of our community… Political parties should also help in this process. We appeal to people of Haryana to deal with this situation,” Singh said at a press conference at the party headquarters.
Singh, the party’s most notable Jat leader from Haryana, was joined by Union Minister Sanjeev Balyan, who has emerged as the party’s Jat face in western UP, Haryana cabinet minister O P Dhankar and party General Secretary and state in-charge Anil Jain. Apart from these leaders, BJP general secretary Ramlal is also expected to be part of the team that would initiate talks with Jats.
BJP leaders have also briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the developments, sources said. Both Home Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP chief Amit Shah held a meeting with party leaders to find ways to resolve the crisis.
BJP leaders admitted that the agitation — which is on similar lines as the Patel quota agitation in Gujarat — could snowball into a major crisis for the government at the Centre. The Gujarat government had cracked down on protesters and arrested Hardik Patel on charges of sedition. But in the current scenario, when the party is already facing flak for its offensive against JNU students, such a move could backfire, BJP leaders said.
Besides, they fear the agitation could spread to other states like Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Antagonising Jats, a community that stood with the BJP in the last Lok Sabha and Haryana Assembly elections, would be damaging to the party’s prospects in UP, where elections will be held next year.
At the press conference, BJP ministers asserted that the party stands for quota for Jats.
Singh said, “In a way, there is an atmosphere of anarchy (in Haryana). I appeal to people leading the agitation to hold talks with our leadership… Youths who are at the forefront should also join talks. I appeal, pray to the people of Haryana, to maintain peace and harmony,” he said.
The BJP also blamed the Congress for the crisis, saying that the current government is paying the price for its “wrong deeds”. Jain said the Congress announced reservation for Jats without due diligence due to “political reasons”.