The Jats community rallied strongly behind the BJP in the run up to the Lok Sabha polls in 2014, ensuring the party’s victory in the majority of the Jat-dominated states — Haryana and Uttar Pradesh — with the expectation that if voted to power, the BJP would ensure them reservation in the OBC quota.
However, their fate was left hanging in the balance when the Supreme Court struck down reservation the quota in 2015. Though the NDA government has filed a review petition in the Supreme Court, the Jats feel cheated and have decided to show their strength. With the assembly elections due soon in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, the Jats of Haryana, New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan have now decided to rake up the reservation issue in the poll-bound states.
In an attempt to mount pressure, especially on the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Punjab during the forthcoming polls, the Jat organisations have announced that they shall hold protest rallies across Punjab beginning from Hussainiwala on September 28 to coincide with the birth anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh. Similar protest rallies will be held across UP, also towards the end of November.
In UP, the Jat community forms around 16 per cent of the population. They are visibly annoyed with the BJP and can impact at least 40 to 45 assembly segments, mainly in western UP.
The Haryana government had issued a notification in March this year granting reservation to Jats in order to placate the community after a violent agitation rocked Haryana in February leading to 30 deaths and losses worth hundreds of crores. However, this notification was challenged in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the court issued a stay order on the state government’s decision to grant reservation to Jats.
Since Haryana has already held its monsoon session of the state assembly and the winter session will not be held before January-February next year, the Jats have decided to take the protest to the neighbouring states of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. The stakes are high for BJP, especially in Punjab where, the Jats have decided to campaign against the party if not granted reservation within the next fortnight.
Though there are several Jat leaders who have been protesting as part of their individual organisations, the Akhil Bhartiya Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti (ABJASS) led by a UP realtor turned champion of the Jat reservation struggle, Yashpal Malik is spearheading the campaign these days.
On Tuesday, Mayyar village of Hisar district witnessed a massive meeting organised by the ABJASS in which they not only honoured families of those Jats who lost their lives while fighting for Jat reservation but also gave financial help to such families. It was here that Malik threatened to relaunch the nationwide Jat stir to coincide it Parliament’s winter session likely to be held in November-December this year.