Patidar leader Hardik Patel Tuesday urged the Congress to move a private member's bill in the next session of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly for reservation to his community. Patel met Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Paresh Dhanani, in Gandhinagar to discuss the issue. During their meeting, Dhanani told him that his party had already moved a private member's bill seeking 20 per cent reservation for economically weaker sections among the unreserved category.
Addressing a press conference in Gandhinagar after the meeting, Patel said, "We have come to the leader of the opposition with a demand that in the next session of the state legislative assembly, they should bring a bill for quota." He said he urged the Congress to table a bill in the House as the BJP government in the state was "not paying heed" to their demands. "In Maharashtra also there is a BJP government. But there, the Maratha community has been given reservation.
In Gujarat, the BJP has been ruling for the last 25 years still they have not provided any quota to us," he said. A bill that grants 16 per cent reservation to Marathas in government jobs and education was unanimously passed by both the Houses of the Maharashtra legislature on Thursday, meeting a long-pending demand of the influential community, which constitutes 33 per cent of the state's population of around 13 crores. "If a private member's bill comes up for discussion, then the BJP will have to make its position clear on quota for our community," Patel said.
Dhanani, who was also present at the press conference, said in March this year his party's state unit chief Amit Chavda (who is also an MLA) had moved a bill for reservation to economically weaker sections among the unreserved category. "I told Hardik that the opposition party has already done this," he said. However, before every session of the Assembly a draw is conducted to randomly select the private members' bills for discussion in the House, Dhanani explained.
"I would request the ruling party to take up the reservation bill without holding a draw in the next session of the assembly," he said. "In the bill, we have sought 20 per cent quota for the economically backward among the upper castes," he said.
In May 2016, the Gujarat government had issued an ordinance for 10 per cent reservation to economically weaker sections among the unreserved category in educational institutions and government jobs. The decision was taken following an agitation by the Patel community.
The reservation was to be given over and above 50 per cent reservations for SCs, STs and OBCs. However, that ordinance was quashed by the Gujarat High Court in August 2016, terming it as "unconstitutional" and "illegal". From August 2015, Patel has been spearheading a protest against the state government for the quota to the Patidar community.
"It is good that after the Patel community gave an application last month to the chairman of OBC commission Sugnaben Bhatt with a demand to conduct a survey of the community to establish its social backwardness, some members of the Rajput and Brahmin communities have also approached the same commission for a survey of their castes also," Patel said. "We have requested Dhanani to write a letter to the OBC commission chairman to conduct a survey of communities as soon as possible so that they become eligible for reservation," he said.
(With inputs from agencies.)