A day after Gujarat government announced 10% reservation for the economically backward among upper castes, jailed Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel on Saturday said he will study the decision before reaching a compromise to end the impasse over quota.
However, community leaders involved in talks with the government are pushing for an end to the Patel stir, saying the community’s two main demands have been fulfilled.
“I will first study the decision taken by the government and surely go for compromise (with the government over quota impasse) if it is in favour of the community,” he told reporters outside a court in Visnagar, Mehsana district, around 90km from Ahmedabad.
The 22-year-old, who is in judicial custody and facing a slew of charges, including sedition, was brought to the court in connection with a case lodged against him in the neighbouring district.
“I will take the matter of 10% reservation to the (Patel) community after studying it properly. Solution to the issue is required for peace ... and it is important for both the sides they compromise on the issue,” he said.
This was Hardik’s first reaction to the reservation for EBCs (economically backward classes) announced by the BJP government for the poor among upper castes (up to annual family income of Rs 6 lakh), which also include Patidars, in jobs and education.
On Friday, spokespersons of the Hardik-floated Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) had rejected the move as another “lollipop” extended by the BJP and the state government to “mislead” their community.
PAAS has been leading the stir for inclusion of Patidars, a dominant agrarian community, as OBCs.
Meanwhile, leaders mediating between agitating Patels and government met chief minister Anandiben Patel on Saturday. Later, they said the agitation should come to an end now as two main demands of the community, reservation and releasing youths jailed in sedition case, have been fulfilled.
Mahesh Savani, a member of the Committee mediating between the two sides, said the government was moving in the right direction. After releasing five of the six Patidar youths (who were behind bars and got bail from Courts), it has announced 10% EBC reservation.
“I believe the 10% reservation is a big step. Now, we are waiting for details on the EBC reservation. Once we get them, we will reach out to members of the community and explain them what this is all about,” Savani told reporters after meeting the Chief Minister.
Savani said “two of our demands -- that leaders jailed under sedition charges be released and government provide reservation to Patel youths -- have received positive response from the government.”
“About Hardik’s release, the CM asked us to keep faith in the legal system. So we feel government’s positive attitude towards Hardik’s release and 10% reservation show that the agitation is now nearing its end,” he said.
Hardik is behind bars in the two sedition cases.
Friday’s decision was taken at a meeting of Gujarat BJP’s core group, where party’s National President Amit Shah was also present.