DESPITE declaring it would act against party MP Rajkumar Saini for his inflammatory remarks on the issue of reservation for Jats, the BJP seems to be treading cautiously on taking him to task.
The party had issued a showcause notice to Saini who made remarks against the Jats despite prior warnings from the party leadership.
In his reply to the notice, Saini said he has not said anything against the Jats, but they were trying to get reservation by pointing a gun on the government’s head. He has said that if reservation has to be given it should be for all communities based on their population.
The state unit of the BJP, which had sent him the notice, has not taken any decision on his reply yet, with sentiments in the party divided along Jat and non-Jat lines. The mostly non-Jat state BJP is eyeing the divide and its potential as a vote winner.
The agitation has pitted the Jat community against the remaining 35 non-Jat communities. In districts where the impact of the agitation was felt most, organised groups of “35 communities” have been constituted with their members vocal in their support of Saini. The Jat community is, meanwhile, gunning for him stating that the BJP needs to reign Saini in.
The divide is present even within the BJP. A Jat leader in the party, who did not wish to be named, said Saini is “trying to provoke the Jats purposely”. “There is a need to stop him. He is constantly making comments against the Jats and is trying to irritate them. This contributed to the agitation and could blow the situation out of control again. It is a wonder that no action is being taken against him,”
Another BJP leader stated that though everyone has the right to express their views, a line should not be crossed which has happened in this case.
Saini, however, does not seem to be backing off.
Talking to The Indian Express, he said, “A wedge has developed between the communities and even if I do not say anything it will not make a difference. I have been telling the members of the 35 communities that they should stay united so that no harm comes to them. This would save their houses and shops from damage.”
Saini, who was planning to address a gathering of the 35 communities in Bhiwani earlier this week, says he was stopped by the BJP leaders as well as the Chief Minister from doing so and was told that the situation could go out of hand. Saini says that even though he did not go, 10,000 people from various communities had gathered there.
The MP has support within the party. Jats make up for around 21 per cent of the electorate; non-Jat OBCs, upper castes, and Punjabi castes make up the rest. During the 2014 Haryana Assembly elections, the BJP rode to victory on the consolidation of the non-Jat votes.
Some BJP leaders have demanded that the government get a survey done on the number of jobs given to different communities. There is resentment over plum government to Jats. The party is also divided over the issue of giving compensation.
One party leader said that initiating action against Saini at this point could turn different communities against the BJP. He added that Saini has emerged as a leader of the non-Jat community during this agitation and the party will have to tread carefully.
President of All India Jat Aarakshan Samiti Yashpal Malik said BJP is dividing the Jats and non-Jats. “The government has not handled the issue properly. Saini has been using derogatory language against Jats. Now he thinks that there are a large number of people backing him and he can blackmail the government,” said Malik.