By YKA Staff:
In July last year, the Patidars of Gujarat led by 22-year-old Hardik Patel, demanded reservation under the OBC category for Patels.
The community agitated for a long time, but the state government did not seem to budge. Sedition charges were slapped on Hardik Patel and some of his associates, and they were sent to jail. Patel has been in jail for almost 200 days now, because of which the movement lost a lot of steam, along with the extensive media coverage that it had initially received.
Then in February this year, the Jats in Haryana put forward a similar demand in front of the state, except their method of agitation was a lot more violent. Public property was destroyed – vehicles burned down, rail tracks damaged, highways dug up. At least 20 people died and over 200 were injured. Eventually, the BJP-run state government relented and the community was given OBC reservation in government jobs. This provided a boost to the Patidar community, who voiced their demands with renewed vigour.
Under this pressure, the BJP government in Gujarat has announced a 10 percent reservation for the economically backward among upper castes, which includes Patidars.
Families with an income cap of Rs. 6 lakh per year will be eligible to avail the benefit.
The reservation announced by the government will be over and above the cap of 50 percent reservation set by the Supreme Court, and may face legal hurdles. The state government already provides 50 per cent reservation to SC/STs and OBCs.
When posed with the question, Gujarat’s BJP president Vijay Rupani answered, “We are very serious about this and we will fight it up to the apex court for reservation of economically backward among the general category.”
This decision comes at a crucial point, with the state gearing up for assembly elections next year. BJP national president Amit Shah was at the head of the core group that deliberated the issue.
The BJP had suffered heavy losses in the rural local bodies polls recently, which were blamed on the Patel quota stir. Therefore, the reservation announcement seems like a clever political strategy to pacify an important vote bank.
With inputs from PTI.