The Congress has already released its first and second lists in which it had accommodated some PAAS leaders.
New Delhi: After hectic parleys Patidar leader Hardik Patel, convenor of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), on Wednesday finally announced his support to the Congress for the coming Gujarat Assembly elections. Mr Patel added that the Congress had agreed to provide reservations for the Patidar community under a special category if it comes to power in the state.
Addressing a press conference in Ahmedabad on the Patidar reservation issue, Mr Patel said: “As per the formula, without touching the 49 per cent quota (now provided in the state) to Schedules Tribes, Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes, the Congress has decided to provide quotas for communities that have not benefited from reservations so far under Article 31(C) and Article 46 of the Constitution.”
Asked how that was possible given that total reservations cannot exceed 50 per cent, Mr Patel said: “In our Constitution, there is no mention of a 50 per cent cap on reservations. I am of the firm opinion that reservations can be given over 50 per cent.”
Hitting back at the Hardik-Congress alliance, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley said from the statements coming so far, the Congress-Hardik club appeared to be “one of mutual deception”. He added: “The law of the land is very clear and is laid down by the Supreme Court, and only reaffirmed last week in Rajasthan’s case that the 50 per cent reservation cap cannot be breached. You can deceive the people and yourself, but in elections only those promises can be made to each other and the public that can be implemented.” The Congress thanked Hardik Patel for forging the alliance to end the “22 years of misrule” by the BJP in the state. Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal, who was instrumental in sealing the deal with PAAS, launched a scathing attack at the BJP. He said the BJP in the state had been hatching conspiracies, imposing sedition cases on Patels for leading the quota campaign and misleading the community during its rule. Though Mr Sibal did not reveal the contours of the proposed reservation formula, he said: “I want to ask the BJP if they know anything... They have got nothing to do with the Constitution, which they have never followed. So the less they talk about the Constitution, the better it is.”
The Congress has already released its first and second lists in which it had accommodated some PAAS leaders. Some differences had cropped up between PAAS and the Congress over allocation of seats, that led to vandalism at the Congress offices in Ahmedabad and Surat. Mr Patel, however, on Wednesday denied that there were any differences with the Congress over seat-sharing. He said: “We had not demanded any seats, but we had asked the Congress to put up candidates of our community who have a strong character.”