Gujarat elections: Hardik Patel accepts Congress quota deal, pledges support
Ahmedabad: Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) has formally accepted the formula offered by the Congress party on granting reservation quotas to his community, convener Hardik Patel said on Wednesday.
He said that while his organization or its members will not join the Congress or hold any PAAS events under the banner of the party, they will directly or indirectly support the party to defeat the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the upcoming Gujarat assembly elections.
He said that the new formula would not change the existing 49% quota for scheduled castes and tribes, and other backward classes (OBCs).
As per the new formula, the Patidars would be extended all benefits that are given to OBCs, he said, while adding that a survey would be carried out and a special category could be created for the purpose.
“Congress has accepted our demand for reservations. When Congress comes to power, it will pass a bill in the state assembly for reservations under Article 31-C and Article 46 of the Constitution without altering current 49% quotas for SC/ST and OBC categories. The 50% cap (on reservations) is a suggestion given by the Supreme Court and it can be relooked into. There is neither any law nor any provision in our Constitution that sets a 50% limit on reservation,” he added.
Congress, he said, has promised to carry out a survey of Patidars examining parameters like economic condition, social condition, education and employment. The Congress will put the reservation formula in its manifesto, he said.
“Our aim is to defeat the BJP. Our organization members are free to join any party they want and we will not oppose them so long as they don’t work against the interests of our community. We will soon reshuffle our core working committee. If in defeating the BJP we have to give support to the Congress we will support them as they have accepted our demands for reservation,” Patel said.
On the recent clashes between PAAS workers and Congress members in Surat, Patel said PAAS wanted the Congress to field good candidates. He said that Congress had fielded one PAAS candidate without consulting them.
Patels form 12-14% of the state’s population and are dominant in many assembly constituencies in Saurashtra, Surat and North Gujarat.
“This would be along the lines of the Tamil Nadu law. The Tamil Nadu law is under challenge before the Supreme Court of India and its eventual fate will also impact this law. The question will still be whether the inclusion of such a law in the 9th Schedule goes against the basic structure of the Constitution,” said Alok Prasanna Kumar, visiting fellow at the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, a Delhi-based independent advisory group.
According to Kumar, such a move can be challenged in court. “This is what the Supreme Court’s 13-judge bench in Kesavananda Bharati held,” he added.
Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Wednesday thanked Hardik Patel for declaring his support to the party, and said their united fight would dethrone the BJP, according to a PTI report.
Gujarat deputy chief minister Nitin Patel, in his reaction, called Hardik Patel a Congress stooge, and claimed the PAAS leader had misled his community and worked to divide it.