After days of confusion over whose side will he pick in the upcoming Gujarat Assembly elections this year, young Patidar leader Hardik Patel announced that the Congress party has accepted their demand for reservation in education and jobs.
Speaking to reporters in Ahmedabad, Hardik, the convenor of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), said that the Congress has agreed to table a bill in the Gujarat Assembly after it comes to power.
Congress has accepted our issues. They have agreed to give Patidars reservations: Hardik Patel pic.twitter.com/furL87WbNR
— ANI (@ANI) November 22, 2017
Hardik said that the party would provide reservations without tampering with the 50 percent limit as per Indian law. He added that the PAAS and the Congress came to an agreement after seven rounds of discussions. "Congress has accepted our issues. They have agreed to give Patidars reservations under section 31 and provisions of section 46," Hardik was quoted by ANI as saying. The Patidar leader, however, did not clearly state that the Patidar leadership will support the Congress in the upcoming election. The 23-year-old denied any political ambitions when asked whether he will be joining or supporting the Congress party.
Hardik added that he will not be joining any party for the next two and a half years.
"All we want is that youth must be given adequate representation in the Assembly and the government." Hardik said.
Hardik denied any split in the PAAS ahead of the election, adding that there have been no demand for Congress tickets from his side.
— ANI (@ANI) November 22, 2017
"We have never appealed to anyone to vote for Congress, but since they are talking about our rights, we leave it on people to decide," Hardik said.
Hardik added that the Article 16 of the Indian Constitution allows for inclusion of non-reserved categories in the quota list. A commission will be created for examining the quota demands. "We have been promised that we will get the same benefits as other OBC communities," he added.
Hardik said that the Congress will add the quota formula in its upcoming party manifesto. However, he added that several states have exceeded the 50 percent limit since 1994 and that a possibility to do so needs to be examined in Gujarat too.
Hardik said, "We are not demanding quota for kerosene but for employment and education for our youth." He further added that the Patidars have always been considered a well-off community by others, but the Congress has agreed to conduct a survey to know the level of socio-economic backwardness among the Patidars.
Hardik lauded the Congress for giving a patient ear to the grievances of the Patidars. "We have discussed these issues with BJP leadership but their intentions were not correct. The Congress is at least listening to our demands. They have come up with a formula which we have agreed to."
"As a leader of the PAAS, it is my responsibility to tell the Patidar community about our discussion with the Congress," Hardik added.
Training his guns against the ruling BJP, Hardik said that his fight is against the victimisation of the Patidar community.
Alleging that the BJP is trying to split the Patidar votes by luring former PAAS members to fight as Independents, Hardik said, "Rs 50 lakh rupees have been offered to former PAAS leaders. Even I have been approached in the past." He added," How can I be called a Congress agent. I was made an offer by K Kailasanathan (a key Modi aide) of 120 crore but I did not sell myself."
Warning BJP of a defeat in the upcoming polls, Hardik said," You (BJP government) has killed 14 members of the Patidar community. You have mistreated our women too. You will have to pay for it."
Hardik also announced that he will be holding a rally in Rajkot on 29 November, a roadshow in Ahmedabad later and another rally in Surat in the first week of December.
Updated Date: Nov 23, 2017 15:15 PM