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Angry Jats plan to take down BJP in poll-bound Punjab, UP and Uttarakhand

Rajeev Khanna | Updated on: 11 February 2017, 5:45 IST

Miffed with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for going back on the promises it made to them over the last three years, the influential Jat community has decided to not only oppose BJP candidates in Uttar Pradesh (UP), Uttarakhand and Punjab, but to actively work to defeat them.

The Jats have constituted 125 teams for UP alone, while teams have also constituted for Uttarakhand and Punjab.

The community's strategy is simple: it wants to ensure the defeat of the BJP candidates through tactical voting in support of candidates from other parties, who are the party's main challengers.

"On one seat, it can be a Samajwadi Party candidate going strong, and on the other, it may be a Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate who will get our vote. The same strategy will be applied in Punjab and Uttarakhand. Our sole goal is to defeat the BJP and send across the message that the party which divides people in the name of religion across the Yamuna and in the name of caste on this side of the Yamuna will not be allowed to form the government in any of the states," said Yashpal Malik, president of the Akhil Bharatiya Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti (ABJASS).

Why the Jats are angry

At present, the Jats are peeved at the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government in Haryana and the Narendra Modi-led BJP government at the Centre for failing to keep the promises made last year, in the wake of the Jat reservation agitation for quotas in government educational institutions and jobs. They are also agitated over the 'selective' targeting of Jats by the Haryana government.

The ABJASS has listed the following issues on which the government has failed to deliver:

1. The core demand for reservation: Malik says that the Act framed by the state government was misleading and wrong. It was bound to crumble under legal scrutiny.

2. Compensation and jobs to the kin of those killed in the Jat agitation violence last year.

3. Compensation and treatment of those injured in the violence.

4. The Jats have also been demanding that the BJP rein its Kurukshetra MP, Raj Kumar Saini, who continues to spew venom against the community and its demand for reservation. "You normally find Modi tweeting about every small thing or issue. But for the last two years, he has simply been keeping quiet on Saini. It shows the mindset and game plan of the BJP to divide the people," Malik said.

5. The Jats say that while the Khattar government went ahead and ordered a CBI probe into the attacks on the houses and properties of the BJP leaders and ministers during the Jat violence, it did not do so in case of attacks on the leaders of other parties. "We want to say that it was a mass agitation in which everybody suffered. Why this distinction?" Malik asked.

6. The Jats demand that people still in jail for their acts during the agitation be released and cases against all the accused be withdrawn. They are seeking action against officials who lodged frivolous and false cases against Jat youth during the agitation. "The officers need to be terminated. There are instances of people having to get bail from High Court in cases falsely registered against them," Malik said.

Meanwhile, Ashok Balhara, who is the Haryana in-charge of the ABJASS, said: "We have decided to once again start organising dharnas across the state in support of our demands from 29 January onwards. These protests will continue till our demands are met."

The Jats will be holding these dharnas on land adjacent to the roads.

"Haryana remains the only state where the security agencies opened fire at agitators without any warning. If the cases against agitators of Kashmir can be withdrawn, why not those against Haryanvis?" Balhara asked.

Specific plans for states

Coming back to the Jats opposing the BJP on the poll platform, the ABJASS has said that the community members would be asked to support winnable candidates of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) or the Congress in Punjab against their Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP combine.

The state in-charge of ABJASS in Punjab, Karnail Singh Bhawda, said: "Hindu Jats can influence at least 25 seats across Punjab. Our Sikh Jatt brothers have influence on more than 90 seats."

He said the BJP had also promised to include Punjabi Jatts in the OBC category ahead of both the 2012 Assembly polls and the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, but had done nothing till now.

He said the Jat leaders from Haryana would also go to Punjab to campaign against BJP candidates.

Similarly, Jats have a considerable presence in western Uttar Pradesh, particularly in the districts of Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur and Bijnor etc.

In Uttarakhand, the community wields a considerable influnence in the Haridwar district, and parts of the Dehradun and Udham Singh Nagar districts. A mere call for a Jat congregation is enough to send alarm bells ringing for the Uttarakhand administration.

The community can prove to be a deciding factor in this predominantly hill state. There are four seats in Dehradun where Jats have some presence, 11 in Haridwar and nine in Udham Singh Nagar. The total strength of the state Assembly is 70 seats.

With the Jats consolidating against it, the BJP has a huge cause for worry.

Edited by Shreyas Sharma

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First published: 23 January 2017, 3:46 IST