OBC leader Alpesh Thakor, who recently joined the Congress party, today made it clear that the Patel community will not be included in the 27 per cent reservation for the Other Backward Caste in Gujarat.
Speaking to India TV, Thakor demanded that a survey should be conducted to assess the demand of the Patel community and the report be presented in the state Assembly for discussion.
Thakor said that he supports reservation for the Patel community in Gujarat but it should be on the basis of economic status.
“We are talking about poverty, unemployment. People who fall in the 27 per cent reservation category (OBC) are still unaware about their rights… only 12-13 seats are filled, rest are still left vacant,” he said.
“A survey should be conducted and report should be tabled in the Vidhan Sabha. The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha should ratify it… I support reservation on the basis of their (Patel) economic status. I will welcome 5-10 per cent reservation for them but this should not be included in the 49 per cent reservation,” he added.
To a question how the Congress, if it manages to form the government in Gujarat, will provide reservation, he said, “The party is thinking about this… how can we adjust them in 27 per cent quota? They should be given reservation apart from the 49 per cent.”
The total reservation in the state stands at 49 per cent at present and in case the government decides to cross this sealing, amendment in the Constitution will be required.
For this, the government has to pass a legislation in the state Assembly and then it will have to be cleared by the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha before being sent to the President of India for final approval.
“All the political parties should bury their differences and come together for this cause,” Thakor added.
Thakor’s remark is important because it will be very interesting to see how the Congress, if voted to power, will fulfil its promise of providing reservation to the Patel community given that the Gujarat High Court had in August last year set aside the state government’s ordinance granting 10 per cent reservation in education and employment for Economically Backward Classes (EBCs).
The court had termed the ordinance 'unconstitutional and illegal' and observed that the provision of quota for non-reserved EBCs, over and above the existing 49 per cent quota for reserved categories, will take the reservation percentage to well over the Supreme Court-mandated limit of 50.
The issue of reservation for Patel community in Gujarat has once again grabbed the headlines ahead of the assembly polls.
The state will go to polls in two phases on December 9 and December14. Results of the 182 Assembly will be declared on December 18.