With Assembly elections round the corner, the BJP government in Gujarat has announced the setting up of a commission for educational and economic upliftment of the upper castes. The development comes after the state government held negotiations with the agitating Patidars seeking reservation in government jobs and academic institutions.
The government also announced another commission on the lines of the OBC Commission enabling upper castes to petition it if any caste is seeking a favourable status. The announcements were made by Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel after the weekly State Cabinet meeting.
Reacting to this, the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) led by firebrand young leader Hardik Patel said the community's key demand would continue, though this might a good initiative.
"We welcome setting up of a commission for upper castes' development, but our demand, besides the key demand of reservations to the Patidars, was a commission for the Patidars. Both have not been met," Dinesh Bhambhania, a close associate of Hardik Patel, said.
The state government also announced setting up of an investigation committee under a retired High Court judge to look into complaints of anyone adversely impacted due to violence in the wake of the Patel quota stir that saw 14 persons losing their lives.
Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel told reporters that the government has instructed the state Home Department to look into ways of initiating a process to withdraw police cases lodged against Patel youth during the reservation agitation.
This is another main demand of the agitating Patidars but the government refrained from a categorical commitment that the cases, including the sedition case against Hardik Patel, would be withdrawn. Nitin Patel remained quiet about this.