The Narendra Modi government has put in motion the process to appoint a chairperson and members of the National Commission for Backward Classes within days of persuading restive Jats of Haryana to postpone their quota agitation that threatened to spill over to the national capital. Once the commission becomes functional, the first thing on its plate would be to conduct a survey to see if there exists enough “quantifiable data” to justify OBC status to Jats. The Centre has asked the Haryana government to initiate the process of revisiting the criminal cases registered against the protesting Jats during the February 2016 agitation that was aso related to the quota demand.
Sources told The Indian Express that the protesters have been assured that once the Punjab and Haryana High Court decides the case pertaining to constitutionality of the Haryana state’s law providing reservations to Jat, Jat Sikh, Ror and Bishnoi communities, the Centre will consider putting the law in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution so as to reduce the chances of courts looking into the law. Sources in the Haryana government told The Indian Express that several rounds of back-channel and overt discussions preceded the eventual deal with the agitating Jats on Sunday, just a day before proposed march to Parliament by the protesters.
Early Sunday morning, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar called Union Minister of State for Law P P Chaudhary, asking him if he was available in Delhi. After Chaudhary told him that he was going to Rajasthan to attend some pre-scheduled meetings in his constituency, Khattar requested him to postpone his trip so as to participate in the talks with representatives of the Jats, including their leader Yashpal Malik. Chaudhary also took the initiative to go to Union Steel Minister and prominent Jat leader of Haryana Birender Singh’s house and bring him to Haryana Bhawan to participate in the confabulations, which lasted for almost six hours.
When asked about the deal with the Jats, Chaudhary said, “We heard them out and told them about our commitment to take every step to assuage their feelings. But, I also told them unlike the previous Congress-led government, which issued orders without following the due process, as a result of which courts stayed the orders, the Narendra Modi government will follow the due process so that a constitutionally viable solution can be found.”
Incidentally, despite Khattar’s initial reluctance, the panel agreed to the demand for government jobs within 60 days to the next of kin of all those who died in the protests last year as well as the seriously injured. Asked if the government would agree with the recommendations of the National Commission for Backward Classes if and when it submits its report, Chaudhary said, “Of course. Whatever the Commission says has to be accepted by the government. The previous government didn’t follow the procedure.”