The cabinet's decision was made in respect of Jats in nine states ' Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Delhi ' which include three of the four Hindi heartland states in which voters rejected the UPA in assembly elections this month.
The decision that NCBC be "requested to reconsider its earlier decision of conducting a survey" before making a recommendation was taken at the meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Once NCBC takes a fresh call, the recommendation will return to the cabinet, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Kumari Selja said.
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 commission has been given special powers to review the earlier decision against inclusion of Jats in central list of OBCs. This is a long pending demand. The matter got delayed because of Haryana's insistence on going by gotras that other states were opposed to," Selja said.
Despite having asked NCBC to expedite its decision and bypass the ICSSR survey, the government can move on the matter only if the commission recommends the inclusion of Jats.
Asked whether NCBC could reject the cabinet's advice, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari told reporters, "Every committee or commission has a right to negate or approve. When the government takes a political consideration and the cabinet recommends something, it has to be taken seriously by the commission."
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. The Congress's urgency stems from the massive erosion in its support base in Rajasthan where it won just about 10 per cent of seats in the assembly, and pressure from Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh whose Jat base in western UP has taken knocks in the wake of recent communal riots. The Congress also expects the move to help Bhupinder Singh Hooda in Haryana.
Ajit Singh's son and RLD MP from Mathura Jayant Chaudhary said the decision was a "positive development" for Jats. "We are holding a rally in Meerut on December 23 to celebrate the life of Chaudhary Charan Singh... In the light of agrarian issues and tensions in the region, the rally will help bring the people together," Chaudhary said.
He said Hooda and the JD(U)'s Sharad Yadav were expected to participate in the rally.