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BJP’s Patel leaders torn between party and community

india Updated: Aug 28, 2015 01:45 IST
Prashant Jha
Prashant Jha
Hindustan Times

Members of the Patel (Patidar) community carry a cut-out of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel during a meeting and mega rally to press for their demands of reservation, at GMDC Ground in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. (PTI Photo)

The standoff between the Gujarat government and the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (Paas) is tearing apart one set of politicians — the Patel leaders of the BJP.

Caught between community pressure and party loyalty, they say protesters’ demands are right but their method is all wrong —they’re playing a “political game”. The leaders also blame the judiciary for the ceiling on quota that makes it impossible to accept the Paas’ demand for reservation in jobs and colleges.

Dilip Patel, who represents Anand in the Lok Sabha, said he was from the same community and belonged to village Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel came from.

“The demand for reservations is correct, and I’ll be happy if Patels get it. But, politics is motivating Paas. Hardik Patel spent three minutes speaking about reservation, and the rest of the speech abusing the PM and the government,” he said.

Narayanbhai Lalludas Patel, too, backs the quota demand but says it just can’t be done. “The SC has already put the ceiling at 50% reservation and has rejected reservations for Gujjars, Marathas in Rajasthan and Maharashtra. We are at 49%. How can the government do it?” the Unjha MLA said.

While both agreed that Hardik was wrong in not talking to the government, Dilip had a suggestion. “Other communities also, including Brahmans, face problems in education and employment. Reservation should be on economic basis. A crore or even five crore people should write letters to SC and ask it to change the judgment.”

Asked if the standoff would mean erosion of Patel support, the MLA said the party could pay the price in the upcoming civic polls. “But it is not as if Congress can give reservation. . .I’m confident even if there are some losses, Patels will be with BJP.”

He said the stir would soon fizzle out – giving voice to what party colleagues, who do not want to face the wrath of the community, are also fervently hoping for.