Gujarat Government in quota trouble

SC/ST/OBC reservation issue sparks protests. Will history repeat itself?

Mehsana/Gandhinagar: The state government’s 2018 resolution regarding reservation for Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe/Other Backward Class (SC/ST/OBC), and the tribal commissioner’s decision to review invalidated tribal certificates has come back to haunt the present administration.

In Mehsana, a large gathering was organized under the banner of ‘Bandharniya Adhikar Aandolan Samiti’ on Friday. The Samiti has put forth a demand to scrap the state government’s August, 2018 resolution. Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) belonging to both the ruling and opposition parties joined the Mehsana rally and extended their support to the tribal community. As per reports, the Samiti has issued an ultimatum to 103 MLAs belonging to these communities to either offer their endorsement or face community ire.

The Samiti has also announced that if their leaders do not show solidarity with their cause, they will stage protests at their public functions. The organization has also threatened to organize a massive rally in Gandhinagar on February 24, when the budget session is slated to begin.

The reservation debate has troubled state administrations in the past, too. Two of Gujarat’s previous chief ministers had to resign after failing to resolve the issue. The present administration’s clarification on the issue has also backfired, with protests erupting across the state.

In 1985, former Gujarat CM Madhavsinh Solanki was re-elected with 149 seats, but had to resign after anti-reservation agitation turned into communal riots. Similarly, Anandiben Patel resigned as chief minister in 2016 following unrest in the state because of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) agitation.

The current situation is a bit different. The communities already classified as SC/ST/OBCs wish to protect their reservation. Also, a rift seems to have developed between various Adivasi groups over this issue. It remains to be seen whether the government will be able to control the situation before it goes out of hand.