In what could be the last cabinet meeting of UPA 2, the government on Sunday decided to include Jats in nine states in the central list of OBCs for reservation in central government jobs and educational institutions.
The cabinet also decided to give special category status to Seemandhra for a period of five years. “A decision has been taken to ask the Planning Commission to give special category status to Seemandhra for a period of five years. The temple town of Bhadrachalam will remain in Telangana. Areas of submergence under the Polavaram project too will be given land for land in Seemandhra,” Union Minister Jairam Ramesh said after the cabinet meeting.
The decision on Jat reservation comes two months after the cabinet asked the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) to fast track its opinion on the matter without waiting for the results of the survey being undertaken by the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR) for this purpose since last year.
The decision affects Jats in Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan (Bharatpur and Dholpur), Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Delhi. These include three of the four Hindi heartland states where voters had rejected the UPA in assembly elections last December.
The NCBC, which had earlier rejected the proposal, has now given a favourable decision, paving the way for the long pending demand to be finally accepted.
The decision will also give some breathing space to Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh’s RLD in western UP where, since the riots of August-September last year, the party has been sidelined.
The NCBC had approached ICSSR in May last year to conduct a “Jat Baseline Survey” to determine socio-economic conditions of the community in six states where they are the most numerous, in order to ascertain the legitimacy of the demand to include them among the OBCs for quotas in central government jobs and educational institutions.
The ICSSR survey has so far taken off in only one of the six identified states, and is likely to take quite some time to be completed.