Gandhinagar: Hardik Patel, the convenor of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), on Wednesday accepted the Congress quota formula, leaving the BJP fulminating and two key Patidar stakeholders non-committal. The development came even as Congress rebel Shankersinh Vaghela released a list of 69 candidates.
But even as Hardik said, “We are formally accepting the Congress formula,” Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, palpably disturbed, countered, “I haven’t seen a bigger fool.” Announcing the details before the media, Hardik said that the Congress party has accepted the demand for reservations not merely for their community but for others not covered in the existing quota as well.
“Their formula provides benefits for reservations under article 31(c) and Article 46 of the Constitution without altering the current 49 per cent quota for SC/ST and OBC categories. “Reservation over 50 per cent can be given. The Supreme Court has only given suggestions, there is no law nor constitutional provision that mandates against reservation over 50 per cent,” he added.
Quoting the formula advanced by the Congress, Hardik said that it has committed that the communities mentioned in article 46, who have not received any benefits under article 15(4) and Article 16(4), would be provided all the benefits made available to the OBC category. “If Congress comes to power in the state, it will either create a special category or evolve a nomenclature.” The state government will hold discussions with all the stakeholders and set up a separate commission to take up the issues,” he added.
Hardik pointed out that the Congress will conduct a survey on economic, social, educational and employment perimeters to create a fool-proof case for reservation benefits. “They will have to put their formula in their manifesto and will be held accountable for it,” he added.
The PAAS convenor observed that since 1994, many states, including Gujarat, have earmarked quotas beyond 50 per cent; in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka the quotas have been there for over 15 years. Hardik claimed that he had taken other community leaders and organisations into confidence as well, besides his own set-up. “We have informed them and now we are informing you that we have accepted the Congress formula,” he added.
Soon after, heads of both the key Patidar community organizations – Khodaldham and Umiyadham – sought to contradict him. Both denied having received details of the Congress formula. “I expect to receive the details sometime soon and will get it verified by senior constitutional lawyers and then make our views known,” said Paresh Gajera, head of Khodaldham Trust, adding, “This is poll time and we are an apolitical organisation though we believe that Patels deserve reservations since 60 per cent of them are poor. Let me make it clear that we do not support any political party, only those who work for us,” he added.
Vikram Patel of the Unjha Umiyadham Trust seemed hostile. “Hardik is lying. We have not been informed. All deserving communities must get reservations but only those in majority in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha can give it,” he added. Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel’s reaction to the news almost bordered on hysteria. “Fools have given a formula and fools have accepted it,” he said.
At his fulminating best, Nitin Patel launched into a virtual diatribe against the Patidar youth leader. “I have witnessed many such leaders over the years who just vanished without a trace. They basked in reflected glory but now even their neighbours do not know about them,” he added.
The deputy chief minister seemed unstoppable. “He will vanish without a trace and the community will take revenge for letting them down. You will be hunted, unable to show your face, and the name will be written in black letters in the history of the community,” he added.
FIR LODGED: An FIR has been registered against quota agitation leader Hardik Patel and six others for organising a rally at Mansa town in Gandhinagar district on November 18 without police permission.