Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel on Thursday tore into the young Patidar reservation leaders, asserting that they only angled for cushy careers and never bothered for government jobs at the base level -- and that their agitation was aimed to tarnish the state’s image.
She was speaking after a group of Patel quota supporters disrupted her speech during a function as part of the “shala praveshotsav” (campaign for school admissions) in Viramgam taluka town, over 60 km from Ahmedabad.
The chief minister had hardly spoken and stopped for a good ten minutes looking at the group of some 25 women shouting slogans in favour of the demand for quota to the Patidars (Patels).
Her face red with anger, Anandiben continued after the police had whisked away the demonstrators: “Nobody wants to work hard and everyone wants everything ready. We had advertised for 8,000 vacancies for police constables and do you know how many from these so-called higher castes (who want reservations) applied for it?”
She asked again, speaking in Gujarati: “Do you know how many ‘savarnas’ (high castes) applied for 8,000 constable vacancies?” After a small pause, she asserted: “Only 150. How many? Only 150. Why, why only these many (you had wanted quota)? Because everybody straightaway wants to be the SP (superintendent of police), nobody wants to start as constables and work hard. You start at the lowest level, then become PSI, PI before getting close to the SP’s post.”
Anandiben has seldom spoken so aggressively in defence of her government’s stance against giving quota to Patels in government jobs and educational institutions.
The Chief Minister said: “The maximum government vacancies arise at the grassroots level of the state administration in the villages and towns for lower posts like assistants and clerks. You would want a space (quota) there but are not interested in applying for it because everybody wants to be a babu directly, nothing at the junior level.”
Still livid, Anandiben continued: “These boys of 20-25 years (quota reservation agitation spearhead Hardik Patel is 23 years old) are doing nothing but bringing a bad name for Gujarat by all this needless, mindless agitation. You are making all these demands today because you have not seen the Gujarat of 20 to 25 years ago.”
“It was the painstaking efforts of Narendrabhai (Modi) who put an end to the era of continuous riots in the state, no curfew, and brought Gujarat on the road to development. You have not seen the struggle, that’s why you are doing all this, tarnishing the reputation of the state.”
Without referring to the quota agitations, she said: “It’s been eight months (of the quota agitation). Everything is peaceful now, an important government event to encourage school admissions is going on and they want to disrupt it.”
Continuing her tirade, Anandiben, a former school principal, asked, “You know how much effort it takes to bring the girl child here to enroll for school admission? They don’t come just like that, an entire battery of teachers and government staff you see here have to toil for it.” She added, taunting the quota agitators: “But you won’t see these teachers. You don’t want to see them because you want to become principals straightaway.”