Party of several OBC communities to contest all seats in Rajasthan assembly elections

A party, which represents several communities belonging to the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category, has announced that it will contest all the 200 seats in the Rajasthan assembly elections to be held on December 7.

The communities have been demanding scheduled tribe (ST) status for reservation in education and jobs for the past eight years under the banner of Kewat, Kahar, Keer, Bhoi, Kashyap Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti.

“The Rashtriya Mahan Gantantra Party (RMGP), which represents the politics of these communities, will contest on all seats in Rajasthan this assembly election,” said Umashankar Kahar, the party’s state president.

Formed in 2014, RMGP will contest assembly polls for the first time in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Most of the OBC communities, which support RMGP, are landless and depend on rivers for their livelihood. They mostly live along the banks of the Chambal, Banas and Kalisindh rivers in Kota and Bharatpur divisions.

“Kewat (traditional boatmen), Kahar (traditional palanquin bearers), Keer and other allied communities are poor and involved in works near rivers to earn their livelihood. They need ST reservation status for progress,” Kahar said.

“These communities, which grow watermelons on riverbeds, rear fish, and take out sand from riverbeds, have failed to get benefits as OBCs because there are so many other communities in the category,” he said, adding that these communities account for around 2.5 million voters in Rajasthan.

“Our party will announce candidates by this month-end,” Kahar said. “Neither the BJP nor the Congress has done anything for the uplift of these communities; the main parties have continued to ignore our demand for the ST status.”

In 2016, before the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, the Samajwadi Party-led state government passed a resolution to include these OBC castes in the Scheduled Castes (SC) list, but the move did not come through.

Earlier, the Mulayam Singh Yadav government had passed the resolution in February 2004 and recommended to the Centre the inclusion of these castes in the SC list in December 2004. The UP government issued an order on October 10, 2005, to give SC benefits to these castes, but it was struck down by a UP court.

In March 2013, the Uttar Pradesh assembly passed a resolution asking the Centre to include these castes in the SC list. The Centre returned the proposal, asking the state to justify their recommendation in the light of observations of the Registrar General of India (RGI).

First Published: Oct 30, 2018 14:25 IST

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