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'We Will Stop Bharat Jodo Yatra'

By PRASANNA D ZORE
Last updated on: November 25, 2022 09:48 IST
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'If Mr Rahul Gandhi is coming to Rajasthan he should also know how his own chief minister is throttling the voices of the people belonging to the most backward classes.'

IMAGE: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi sprints early morning along with children during the Bharat Jodo Yatra at Gollapalli in Jagtial, Telangana, October 30, 2022. Photograph: ANI Photo

Vijay Bainsla is president of the Gurjar Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti that includes most backward classes in Rajasthan like the Gurjars, Rebaris, Gadariyas, Banjaras and Lohars.

Bainsla has issued an ultimatum to the Rajasthan government that he and his organisation will stop Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra when it enters Rajasthan through Jhalawar on the evening of December 4.

"I don't want a clash because if there is a clash, then it could go any which ways and I don't want that to happen. We are also peace-loving people," Bainsla tells Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com.

In the same breath, he adds, "If you implement our agreement we will garland Rahul Gandhi, we will make him sit on an elephant and take out a grand procession."

Why are you opposing Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra in Rajasthan?

We have had an understanding with the Rajasthan government in 2019-2020 (a year after Ashok Gehlot's Congress government came into being). It's been four years (since 2018 when the government was formed) since we reached an agreement and signed documents.

Now, if even after four years if you are not meeting our demands, then we have no other way but to raise our voices (oppose Bharat Jodo to get our demands fulfilled).

In another year, your government will not be there (Rajasthan Assembly elections are due in 2023).

What took you almost these many years to get vocal about the fulfillment of your agreement with the Ashok Gehlot government?

After running from pillar to post for all these years, we are now tired. We are happy that the Bharat Jodo Yatra is here (it is scheduled to enter Rajasthan through Jhalawar on the evening of December 4).

We will oppose it. We will stop it. Why shouldn't we do it?

We have been screaming about our just demands since last four years, but nobody is willing to listen.

We have had our agreement with sitting cabinet ministers of the Rajasthan government, not with any bureaucrat.

What exactly is this agreement you have been talking about?

In 2019-2020, the Rajasthan government had agreed to withdraw all the cases against us (the cases against the Most Backward Classes who had participated in agitations for MBC quota). That has still not been fulfilled.

The jobs which were in the pipeline when 5 per cent reservations (for the MBCs in jobs and educational institutions) were announced should help us get jobs.

It was about filling backlogs and vacancies in Devnarayan Yojana, making the scheme more beneficial for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes; now, all that has gone down the dumps.

14,000 scholarships meant for youth (belonging to the MBC) who make up the below poverty line category are pending under the Devnarayan Yojana. These scholarships have been approved since the last three years, but not disbursed yet. That's a very sad thing.

Imagine the condition of these youth who have won the scholarships but can't get an admission to the MBBS course because they don't have Rs 7 lakh to pay the admission fees. These youth cannot pay the fees because the government has not yet disbursed the scholarships.

This is sad and inhuman and this is what we want to bring to Rahul Gandhi's notice.

IMAGE: Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Sachin Pilot during the party's Bharat Jodo Yatra in Kerala. Photograph: @INCUttarPradesh/Twitter

Aren't you also asking for Sachin Pilot to be made Rajasthan chief minister by replacing Ashok Gehlot?

That is the sentiment of the (Gurjar) community (to which Sachin Pilot also belongs), which I have echoed. We need not unnecessarily politicise the issue.

The fundamental issue, and that is what we are demanding, is execute the agreement that this government signed in 2019-2020. It has been signed by cabinet ministers Maharaj Vishwendra Singh and Raghu Sharma.

Is this signed document legally binding on the Rajasthan government?

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Why not go to the court then?

Why should I go to the court? Why will I go to the court? Do you think this is the only thing I have to do in life? Go to the court?

A sitting government has signed it and we demand that it honour its commitment. It is their job to execute it. Or, let them say openly that we are not going to execute it, honour it.

I have no problem with even that. But please take a stand and do what you need to do.

After an year this government will go; after another three months the bureaucracy will stop working and this has been happening for donkeys years. We just have three more months.

In this scenario, if Mr Rahul Gandhi is coming to Rajasthan he should also know how his own chief minister is throttling the voices of the people belonging to the most backward classes.

Why not peacefully bring it to the notice of Rahul Gandhi? Why talk of disrupting the Bharat Jodo Yatra?

Tell me one thing. I have been putting forth our demands for the last ten days. Why is the government feeling that we will disrupt it?

Why is the Gehlot government not saying 'We have signed this in 2019-2020 and for whatever reasons we have not implemented it for all these years we will at least do it now.'

If you implement our agreement we will garland Rahul Gandhi, we will make him sit on an elephant and take out a grand procession.

Sachin Pilot has distanced himself from your demand of making him chief minister.

That is his personal view. I have nothing to do with it.

What I am saying is what the government has signed for the benefit of the community (the MBCs), execute it.

What I am talking about is the hard truth. It is not happening. Now, why Gehlotji is not doing it is for him to answer.

Sachin Pilot has said the BJP can do whatever to disrupt the Bharat Jodo Yatra, but it will be a success in Rajasthan?

How does it matter? That is irrelevant. We are not politicising the issue. The issue is that the (MBC) community has been taken for a ride.

Despite an agreement in place and everybody in the Rajasthan Congress -- ministers, party leaders, the chief minister -- is party to it.

While you are asking for fulfillment of an agreement that was signed in 2019-20 isn't your timing suspect?

Why suspect?

Because you have been saying that in three months the bureaucracy will stop functioning?

Hear me out, please.

Who is Gehlot's boss? Why is the whole world (Congressmen) running behind Rahulji?

Rahulji is the top management guy in the (Congress) structure, right? So, you stop him (Rahul Gandhi).

IMAGE: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. Photograph: ANI Photo

Would your demands be fulfilled if you stop the Bharat Jodo Yatra?

We have been talking about this issue for the last ten days and nobody took notice. That means Mr Rahul Gandhi is not even aware of it. That's his organisational issue. He needs to look into in his own house.

What's your plan to oppose the yatra?

You will see when it enters Rajasthan. We never say what we plan to do.

Wouldn't it lead to a law and order problem?

That is for Ashok Gehlotji and the rest of the government to figure out.

My point is why are we even looking at having a clash. You still have ten days. Do it. Why are we pre-empting a clash?

Because you are the one talking about stopping the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Rajasthan?

I am only asking this government to execute what it has signed. Or, admit that they never had any plans to implement our demands.

There are 200 Vidhan Sabha seats in Rajasthan. Out of these 75 seats are Vidhan Sabha seats dominated by the MBCs, mostly from the Gurjar community. Which means that anywhere between 30,000 to 78,000 votes of the community are present in each of these constituencies; approximately 37 per cent of the population resides here.

You signed a document that had the welfare of the MBCs in mind and now you are saying that you will not execute it.

But Sachin Pilot has been on record saying that all the communities in Rajasthan helped it gain its strength from just 21 seats in 2013 to 105 in 2018.

I don't want to have this conversation. Please understand, my moot problem is that the 2019-2020 accord has to be executed in faith. That is not being done.

I don't care who is saying what. It is irrelevant for me. That is politicising the issue.

It is your contention that 70-80 seats have gone to the Rajasthan Congress' kitty because of the MBC votes?

You are not getting what I am saying. I am saying that in all these constituencies there are 30,000 to 78,000 voters from the Gurjar and MBC communities for whose benefit this accord was signed. That's a huge number, isn't it?

And if an accord signed for the welfare of these people which was signed in 2019 is not being implemented in faith and I have been running from the pillar to the post to the offices of the chief minister, cabinet ministers, then I think it is high time you honour your commitment to these people.

A question needs to be asked to Gehlotji and Rahulji: Why are you sitting on it? Is there any ulterior motive? Spell it out. That's my point.

What if the Rajasthan government doesn't accept your demands?

It is the question of ethics; a question of honouring a commitment. If they still don't execute it, then it is like committing treachery against our people. It is a breach of contract.

We are the people who have been cheated for the last four years. And we are going to go to the Bharat Jodo Yatra and that is the way it is going to happen.

You cannot take people's aspirations and trust for a ride. You can't!

We have had enough of it. You have taken us for a ride once, not again. And, if the Bharat Jodo Yatra has to be stopped, then it has to be stopped. If you want to kill us for it, kill us. Finish this issue once and for all.

The people are angry and have a deep sense of mistrust for this government. All the people who are in the government are responsible for whatever happens next.

I pray that good sense prevails upon Rahul Gandhi and take note of what's happening on the ground, what his party men are doing.

This is about a community's welfare against his government.

This is not about politics, but ethics.

If they refuse to abide by ethics, then the morality of the Rajasthan government and its existence is in question.

Right now, we are in Jhalawar doing a recce of the spot from where the Bharat Jodo Yatra is scheduled to enter into Rajasthan and plan how to stop it.

We have had enough. We are working on our plan (to stop the yatra); hope the government too wakes up before that.

I don't want a clash because if there is a clash then it could go any which ways and I don't want that to happen. We are also peace-loving people.

We are predominantly doing this agitation for the welfare of the youth and Rahul Gandhi's yatra is also about providing employment and dignity to the youth of India.

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PRASANNA D ZORE / Rediff.com
 
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