Patel quota stir Other States

Relenting to Patel stir, Gujarat extends quota to upper castes based on economic criteria

In a bid to placate agitating Patidars demanding quota for jobs and education, the Gujarat BJP government has announced 10 % quota for economically backward class among the upper castes, who are ineligible for quota under the existing system.

A special ordinance will be promulgated earmarking 10% reservation in jobs and education on May 1st.

The Anandiben administration has followed Haryana and Rajasthan governments which recently announced special quotas for Jats and Gujjars respectively.

"Gujarat government has decided to accord 10% reservation for economically backward in general category," Chief Minister Anandiben Patel tweeted making the announcement, adding, "existing 49% reservation for SC, ST and OBC will remain untouched. Gujarat government is committed to ensuring equal opportunities for all."

The 10 % quota benefits will be given to those whose annual income is Rs six lakh or less. "The ordinance will be promulgated immediately in order to introduce the new system in the next admission season starting soon," state BJP president Vijay Rupani said.

The decision was taken in a high level meeting between Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, BJP president Amit Shah and Gujarat party president Vijay Rupani.

The decision by the government, which so far remained firm on not extending any benefits of quota to the affluent Patel community, which forms the backbone of BJP's support base in the state, reflects the party's electoral vulnerability as it faces the crucial assembly polls next year.

Agitating since last July, the Patidar community has been demanding quota under Economically Backward Class (EBC) based on the economic criteria because the Patidars are traditionally a land owning community so it's not recognized as OBC (Other backward class).

"We had to do this because otherwise, it would be difficult to face the assembly polls amidst agitation by one of the most powerful communities in the state," said a cabinet minister, who was among the BJP leaders pushing for quotas to the Patels and other upper castes like Brahmin and Bania.

Meanwhile, the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), which spearheads the agitation for quota, dismissed the state government's announcement as "lollipop" and demanded that a community specific quota should be given to the Patidars similar to what Haryana government has given to the Jats.

The move by the government may face a legal hurdle also but the state government and the ruling party don't want to be seen as the main stumbling block for the Patidars, as it faced wipe out in the panchayats polls when Congress won 23 of 31 district panchayats held last year.

"If challenged in the court, the government will fight in the High Court as well as the Supreme Court for its decision of extending the quota benefits to the economically backwards from upper castes," said state BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya.

In Gujarat, Patels are around 12-15 % of the total population but they are among the most influential ones controlling state's politics, small and medium enterprises, education, diamond, cooperative and real estate sectors in the state's political economy.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 6:09:21 PM |

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