Gujarat accedes to reservation demand, announces 10% quota

Giving in to agitating Patidars demanding reservations in jobs and education, the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Gujarat has announced 10 per cent quota for the economically backward among the upper caste community, who are eligible for quota under the existing system.

A special ordinance will be promulgated earmarking 10 per cent in jobs and education on 1 May.

The administration has followed the Haryana and Rajasthan governments, which recently announced special quotas for Jats and Gujjars respectively.

The decision was taken in a high level meeting between Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel, BJP president Amit Shah and Gujarat party president Vijay Rupani.

The decision by the government favouring the largely affluent Patidhar or Patel community - which forms the backbone of BJP's support base in the state - is seen as an electoral ploy as it faces assembly polls next year.

Agitating since last July, the Patidar community has been demanding quotas under the Economically Backward Class (EBC) yardstick based on economic criteria because the Patidars are traditionally a land-owning community so they are not recognised as OBC (Other backward class).

"We had to do this because otherwise, it would be difficult to face the assembly polls amidst agitation by one of the most powerful communities in the state," said a cabinet minister, who was among the BJP leaders pushing for quotas to the Patels and other upper castes like Brahmins and Banias, according to the Hindustan Times.

The move by the government may face a legal hurdle also but the state government and the ruling party don't want to be seen as the main stumbling block for the Patidars, as it faced wipe out in the panchayats polls when Congress won 23 of 31 district panchayats held last year.

In Gujarat, Patels are around 12-15 per cent of the total population but they are among the most influential ones controlling state's politics, small and medium enterprises, education, diamond, cooperative and real estate sectors in the state's political economy.