GUJARAT Election: BJP says Congress & Hardik Patel Are Fooling Patidars about Reservation

November 23rd, 2017 | by Pranab Kumar Chakravarty
GUJARAT Election: BJP says Congress & Hardik Patel Are Fooling Patidars about Reservation
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PAAS national convenor Hardik Patel on Wednesday said they accept the formula given by the Congress to provide reservation to Patidars at par with OBC under the   non-reserved categories.  “Nowhere in the Indian constitution is it written that more than 50 per cent reservation cannot be given to other communities. Congress people are not our cousins, but when they speak about our rights we have to listen to it. And the formula they have offered is plausible.” Reacting to his announcement ,Gujarat  Deputy CM Nitin Patel today called both the Congress and Hardik Patel ‘fools’ He made the comment after he was asked to react to Hardik Patel’s  announcement that PASS has accepted Congress formula to give reservation to non-reserved communities above limit of 49 per cent put by Supreme Court. For Hardik Patel it was never about ensuring reservation for the Patidars, said Nitin Patel and accused Hardik of a sell-out after he declared support to the Congress in the ongoing assembly elections. “The people of the state have seen in the last few days that reservation was a facade and it was all about the political ambition of Hardik Patel,” said the Deputy CM who also who is a Patidar.

On the pact between Hardik Patel’s Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) and the Congress on reservations, Nitin Patel said that the two were fooling the Patidar community. ”The judgements that they are quoting  makes  it  crystal clear  that there is no reservation above 50 per cent .It was delivered by a nine -judge bench. Hardik and Congress are fooling the Patidars offering a formula which is not legally tenable,” he said. At the press conference, Hardik said “ I am not ‘bikau’(saleable  commodity. Otherwise, I could have accepted offer of Rs 1200 crore from K Kailashnathan (Chief Principal Secretary to Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani) when I was in jail,” Patel alleged.

Addressing a news conference after postponing twice at Ahmedabad, Hardik said the Congress party has “agreed to give Patidars reservations under section 31 and provisions of section 46 and it will bring in a bill when they come in power in Gujarat.

He didn’t extend support to the Congress party, however indicated the fight against the BJP will effectively result in the same. “We are not openly extending support to Congress, but we will fight BJP. So directly or indirectly, there will be support to Congress,” he said.

Patel declined speculation that he is joining any party or that his outfit has asked for any seats in a coalition in the upcoming polls, he said “We have never appealed to anyone to vote for Congress, but since they are talking about our rights, we leave it on people to decide.”

Meanwhile, Republic TV alleges that Hardik had no other option but to surrender to Congress in the wake of mass desertion of PASS by a large number of activists. He has reconstituted his core team after five activists close to him walked out of the PAAS, the TV channel said. Hardik declined speculation that he is joining any party or that his outfit has asked for any seats in a coalition in the upcoming polls, he said, “We have never appealed to anyone to vote for Congress, but since they are talking about our rights, we leave it on people to decide whether we are right, he added.

Patel will now officially share space with Congress leaders, especially in his stronghold of Saurashtra, though he today dodged committing to joint rallies with Rahul Gandhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will resume campaign on November 25 . The Congress and Patel will need to work hard to counter Modi’s emotive Gujarat “Asmita”  meaning honour in Gujarati  pitch which positions him as the repository of Gujarat “Gaurav” (pride) and the “Pradhan Sevak” (No 1 public servant) from Gujarat and a son of the soil, comments NDTV.

Congress has been able to bring on broad three community leaders for winning  the  182 assembly  poll .While Alpesh Thakor has formally joined the party, Jignesh Mevani and Patel are key parts of jigsaw that makes up the party’s calculation in Gujarat.

The Congress has to reconcile the competing demands of the OBCs, represented by Thakor, and the Patidars, who are clamouring for a slice of the same reservation pie and are quite adversarial to each other. The Congress is worried about cross-voting for the BJP by the Patidars who have solidly supported the BJP for 22 years and the OBCs. OBCs feel insecure about the Patels gaining reservation at their expense.

Hardik repeated his accusation the ruling BJP had offered him 1,200 crore INR to withdraw his agitation. This dramatic charge will be repeated at all his public meetings. That may be hyperbole, fact, or pure fiction, but there is no doubt that the BJP is pulling out all the stops to win the Gujarat election, pumping in unprecedented number of cadre and money in the prestige contest for Modi and Shah. There is speculation that  BJP may project a person from the powerful Patel community as its chief Ministerial candidate .Anyway, both BJP and the Congress  have much stake in the western state’s  assembly  elections to be held on December 9 and 14.

Earlier, BJP government’s efforts to give reservation to the Patels and other Economically Backward Communites were rejected by the Gujarat High Court. The Punjab and Haryana High Court and the Rajasthan High Court have red flagged the bills passed by the Haryana and Rajasthan legislative assembly providing Jat, Gujjar   and other EBCs.

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