Patidar quota stir spearhead Hardik Patel is pushing for a survey to establish “social and economic backwardness” of the community in Gujarat so that they qualify for reservation in jobs, days after Marathas were granted reservation in Maharashtra after a similar exercise.
Mr Patel led a delegation on Thursday to meet chairperson of the OBC Commission of Gujarat and demanded a survey of the Patidar (Patel) community by the panel.
“We met chairman of OBC Commission Sugnaben Bhatt and handed an 11-page letter asking her to conduct a survey that the entire Patel community is socially and educationally backward,” he told reporters after the meeting.
“We have demanded that survey be started as soon as possible. It is mandatory to prove in a survey that a community is backward and after that only it (community) becomes eligible to receive reservation,” he said.
The move of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) led by Hardik Patel comes after Maharashtra’s State Backward Class Commission gave a report on backwardness of the Marathas after which the government announced quota for the community.
The reservation will be granted to the community under a new category, ‘Socially and Educationally Backward Class’, as per the recommendation of the commission, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had said Sunday.
On his meeting Thursday with Sugnaben Bhatt, 25-year-old Hardik Patel said, “The commission heard us and gave a positive feedback. They will give us a reply in a week’s time.”
He said the BJP is in power in Gujarat for over two decades, but it has still not taken a decision on granting quota to the Patidars, who have been agitating over the issue.
“After only 3.5 years of being in power, The BJP government in Maharashtra has decided to give reservation to Marathas, while the BJP government of Gujarat which is in power for the last 25 years is not giving anything to us,” he said.
“We got a ray of hope after the decision of the Maharashtra government,” Hardik Patel said.
This is the first time since 2015, when the PAAS launched its agitation for reservation, that Hardik Patel has gone to the OBC Commission with a demand for survey of the Patidar community.
Earlier, some sub-groups of the Patel community had approached the commission for such a survey.
“Our application is for the entire Patidar community. We represent the entire community,” Hardik Patel said in response to a question regarding earlier application submitted to the panel by some sub-groups of the community.
Hardik Patel had started his agitation for reservation for the Patel community in August 2015 by organising a mega rally in the GMDC Ground in Ahmedabad.
However, violence broke out in different parts of the state after the rally. At least 14 people lost their lives in clashes with police, while protesters damaged public properties worth crore of rupees.
To pacify the influential community, the government came out with an ordinance declaring 10 per cent reservation for the poor among upper-castes in Gujarat, including the Patels.
The PAAS had been demanding quota for the Patels under the OBC category.
However, the Gujarat High Court struck down the ordinance, terming it as “anti-constitution”. The state government had appealed against the ruling in the Supreme Court, where the case is pending.
During the 2017 Gujarat assembly elections, the Congress had promised reservation to the Patel community if elected to power. Hardik Patel had openly supported the main opposition party over the reservation issue.