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NEW DELHI: Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convenor Hardik Patel issued an ultimatum to the Congress on Saturday, threatening to dirupt the party’s campaign rallies in poll-bound Gujarat unlesss it clarifies it’s stand on reservation to Patidars within the week.
“Congress should clarify its stand on granting constitutional reservation to Patidars by November 3, 2017, or else there will be incidents like the one at Amit Shah’s rally in Surat,” Patel said in a tweet.
3/11/2017तक कोंग्रेस पाटीदार को संवैधानिक आरक्षण कैसे देंगी,उस मुद्दे पर अपना स्टेण्ड क्लीयर कर दे नहीं तो अमित शाह जैसा मामला सूरत में होगा
— Hardik Patel (@HardikPatel_)
The leader of the Patidar quota agitation was referring to several incidents in the last few months when PAAS activists had created ruckus at the BJP’s public meetings, including those where party president Amit Shah was in attendance. During an event when Shah and Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani were to meet with leaders of the Patidar community in Surat, Hardik’s supporters barged into the venue and raised slogans, before breaking the furniture. Last month, PAAS supporters once again disrupted Shah’s ‘Gujarat Gaurav Yatra’.
Hardik’s demand to the Congress comes even as the party has been arduously courting him for support in the upcoming assembly election in Gujarat. The firebrand leader had earlier met with Congress poll in-charge Ashok Gehlot to discuss the terms of a possible alliance. There were also reports of Patel meeting with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi at a five-star hotel in Gujarat, but both parties have denied that any such meeting happened between them.
“During my meeting with the Gujarat Congress poll in-charge, Ashok Gehlot, I had sought the party’s clarification on how it will give quota to Patidars. It must clarify whether or not it will give quota under OBC category,” Hardik had said.
The PAAS reiterated that their main demand is that the Patidars be provided reservation under OBC category or by including them in the Constitution’s 9th Schedule. “Once the Congress clarifies its stand on this, we will certainly declare our support to the party in the state assembly elections,” Hardik said.
When asked about his reaction if the Congress would offer the Patidars quota under EBC (economically backward class) category, Hardik said that EBC has no constitutional validity and it has been rejected by the courts in the past.
Siddharth Patel, the senior-most Patel leader in Congress’ Gujarat state unit, said the party’s legal team was working on a strategy by which it can give Patidars reservation.
In June 2015, Gujarat Congress had promised 20 per cent quota for the poor among upper castes after the BJP-led state government announced 10 per cent quota for the economically backward among upper castes. In August, this was quashed by the Gujarat high court which said that the government notification for 10 per cent quota was unconstitutional.