Hardik Patel Questions Centre’s Upper Caste Quota Move

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Hardik Patel said he would welcome it if the decision is implemented Constitutionally and without delay

Ahmedabad:

Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel and the Gujarat Congress Monday questioned the Union Cabinet's approval of 10 per cent reservation in jobs and educational institutions for the economically backward section in the general category.

Mr Patel said he would welcome it if the decision is implemented Constitutionally and without delay and hoped that it would not turn out to be a "lollipop" like the one offered by the Anandiben Patel government in Gujarat earlier.

"We are neither accepting nor rejecting the (Centre's) decision at this stage. The decision is welcome if it is implemented successfully and without delay," Mr Patel said.

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"If 10 per cent reservation is implemented in a short time constitutionally, the the PAAS (Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti) will welcome the decision. But if the decision is to offer a lollipop to agitated caste groups, then this will be unacceptable," he said.

Mr Patel is the convener of PAAS which led an agitation demanding reservation in jobs and education for the Patidar community in the state.

He, however, cautioned that Monday's reservation decision could just be another "jumla" (poll rhetoric) of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre to get votes.

He cited a decision taken by the Gujarat government during the chief ministership of Anandiben Patel to offer 10 per cent reservation to economically weaker sections among upper castes.

This decision was, however, quashed by the Gujarat High Court.

He also alleged the Centre's move could be a ploy to weaken reservation agitations like the one led by PAAS by creating a rift between people of reserved and unreserved categories.

Raising questions over the timing of the decision, coming close to the end of the ongoing Parliament session, Mr Patel said it may be a way to divert attention from the Rafale aircraft tussle between the Centre and the Congress-led opposition.

"While denying us reservation in the state (Gujarat), the same BJP leaders had said reservation could not exceed 50 per cent. It will be worth watching on what basis such a decision has been taken," Mr Patel said.

Senior Congress leader Bharatsinh Solanki said the decision indicated that the Modi government was staring at defeat in the upcoming Lok Sabha election.

"Gujarat Congress had announced (before 2017 Assembly elections) that if it forms a government, it will offer reservations to economically weaker sections among the upper castes," he said.

"If reservation is implemented and does not remain empty claims, then this is right. The BJP and its PM is staring at defeat in upcoming elections," he said.

Attacking the Centre further, Mr Solanki said, "The BJP government waived off Rs 3.5 lakh crore corporate loans but refuses loan waiver to farmers. If the same money was allotted for public use, issues of farmers, small businesses and jobs would have been addressed."

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