Congress agrees to 4 of 5 Patidar demands

Our Bureau Ahmedabad | Updated on January 09, 2018

What has created a new proximity between the agitating Patidar quota leaders and the Congress is the latest poll promise by the latter on demands laid down by the Patidar leaders.

Patidar leaders on Monday met senior Gujarat Congress leaders — including State party chief Bharat Sinh Solanki and former party president and Patidar face Siddharth Patel. Terming the meeting a positive one, with a ray of hope for securing a reservation that is “constitutionally valid and acceptable by the courts”, Patidar leaders showed a tilt towards the grand old party.

“The Gujarat Congress chief had invited us to meet and discuss issues pertaining to our demands. We are happy that the Congress has agreed to four out of five of our demands. On reservation, the party has adopted a positive approach by assuring us to take legal advice to give 20 per cent reservations for Patels and other upper castes, instead of the 10 per cent proposed by the BJP government,” said Patidar leader Hardik Patel.

The Congress leadership promised the Patidar leaders that if it forms the government, it will withdraw all police cases against Patidar youth, including the sedition cases against their leader Hardik, with immediate effect.

“If we come to power, we will provide ₹35 lakh in relief as well as a government job — based on the provisions of the government and the capabilities of the individuals — to family members of those who died in the police firing,” said Siddharth Patel, addressing the media after meeting Patidar youth.

The Congress also promised to form a commission for non-reserved communities (Savarn Aayog) with a fund of ₹2,000 crore, almost double what is offered by the BJP government in the State under its Economically Backward Community (EBC) quota commission.

The Congress also promised to form an SIT to investigate the alleged police excess and atrocities during the August 2015 Patidar agitation.

Indicating a clear inclination towards the Congress, Hardik said the ruling BJP fooled the Patidars by merely issuing a notification on the reservation. “The Congress has assured us they will consult constitutional experts and make efforts to provide reservation for economically backward communities,” he said.

Notably, the Patidars had asked the Congress to make its stand clear on the reservation issue, failing which the community had threatened to boycott Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the State later this week.

“The meeting was positive. Now, we will neither support nor oppose Rahul Gandhi’s visit,” said Patidar leader Alpesh Kathiria after a three-hour meeting with Congress leaders.

Published on October 30, 2017

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