Patidar leader Hardik Patel on Wednesday extended his support to the Congress in Assembly elections after it promised to give job quotas to the Patel community under the OBC category in Gujarat.
Hardik Patel made the much awaited announcement on behalf of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) at a crowded press conference here and said PAAS was formally accepting the “workable formula” advanced by the Congress.
“The Congress has accepted our demand for reservations with a formula that provides for benefits equivalent to OBCs constitutionally, without disturbing the present 49 per cent quota for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBCs,” Patel said.
“We are accepting the formula given to us by the Congress party.”
Flanked by other leaders of the PAAS, which has been campaigning for job quotas for the Patels, Hardik Patel brushed aside allegations by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that he was “a Congress agent”.
“The Congress has accepted our demands though it is in opposition and has promised to even include it in its manifesto,” he said.
“In this situation, when the BJP tortured our youth and slapped false cases, including those of sedition, there is nothing wrong in supporting the Congress.
“Let the BJP call me a Congress agent. I am nobody’s agent, except that of the people. The BJP doesn’t have a land title to Gujarat, six crore people own the state.”
Hardik Patel said the Congress had said that if it won the Gujarat elections, it would pass a proposal for reservations under Articles 31-C and 46 of the Constitution.
He insisted that the Constitution nowhere said more than 50 per cent reservations could not be given. “The Supreme Court has only given suggestions on this. There is neither any law nor provision in the Constitution.”
He said the state government would talk to all the stakeholders and set up a separate commission.
“The Congress has promised that a survey would be carried out within Patel or any other forward community as per the provisions of the OBC Commission and on this basis parameters of economic, social, educational or employment would be used to extend reservation benefits to Patels and other forward communities,” Patel said.
He claimed that since 1994, many states, including Gujarat, had given quotas beyond 50 per cent and in states as Tamil Nadu and Karnataka such reservation had been in existence for 15 to 17 years.
Patel said he was accepting the formula not just on behalf of PAAS but after speaking to several community leaders and key religious organisations – Khodaldham and Umiyadham.
However, heads of both these bodies denied having received any details about the Congress formula.
“I expect we should receive the formula some time today and then we will get it verified by senior Constitutional lawyers and then announce our stance,” Paresh Gajera, head of Khodaldham Trust, said.
“We are an apolitical organization. We, however, believe that reservations must be given to Patels as more than 60 per cent of Patels are living in poverty.”
The Chairperson of Unjha Umiyadham Trust, Vikram Patel, however alleged that Hardik Patel was lying.