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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

We will introduce EBC, not OBC for Patidars: Gujarat Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki

Bharatsinh Solanki says the Congress believes in bringing everyone from Patidars to OBCs, SCs, STs together.

assembly-elections Updated: Oct 28, 2017 22:52 IST
Hiral Dave
Hiral Dave
Hindustan Times, Ahemdabad
Gujarat Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki.
Gujarat Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki.(Ravi Choudhary/HT File Photo)

The Gujarat Congress, in a new avatar, is abandoning its once winning formula of KHAM(Ksharitya, Harijan, Adivasi, Muslim). In the upcoming assembly polls however, when the support of the influential Patidar community is being seen as a deciding factor, state president Bharatsinh Solanki spoke to Hiral Dave about why KHAM-like castiest politics would no longer work and how the party is planning to bring 20% Economic Backward Class (EBC) reservation constitutionally. Excerpts:

Hardik patel-led PAAS, giving an ultimatum, has asked the Congress to clear its stand over OBC quota to Patidars? What is the Congress’s stand?

Though Patidars are educated, strong and enterprising, there are families who are weak. These families need help. We will pass a bill in the 2018 Gujarat assembly(if party wins the December elections), which will go to the parliament. If the BJP government at Centre accepts it, they will negotiate it with Supreme Court. If not, then in 2019, we will form a government at Centre, and we will provide 20 % EBC quota and not OBC quota to Patidars.

When the Congress is wooing Patidars, where does the KHAM formula stand now?

I do not believe in KHAM, I believe in Aam(ordinary people). Castiest politics cannot work. Patidars, who were with the Congress until 1985 drifted away when reservation for OBC was raised (by the Congress government) to 27% in Gujarat. Now the Congress believes in bringing everyone from Patidars to OBCs, SCs, STs together.

Alpesh Thakor, who opposed the Patidar agitation, has joined the Congress. Your party seems to wooing Hardik Patel. How does the Congress plan on keeping leaders with contradictory demands in one boat?

The EBC quota which we plan to bring will be introduced without disturbing the existing 49% quota for OBCs, STs and SCs.

Was the 2014 loss in Gujarat a shocker?

No. I had anticipated it. I even told high command and my father (former CM Madhavsinh Solanki) that I do not want to contest. After formation of Gujarat state in 1960, there was a sarjan (birth) of Congress in Gujarat. And after 2014, we have done Navsarjan (rebirth).

Is the central Congress leadership different from 2014?

Rahul Gandhi has been interacting with us. We go (rallies) together, talk to cadres together, he listens to everyone.

First Published: Oct 28, 2017 22:52 IST

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