In an apparent bid to pacify the agitating Patidar community ahead of the Assembly polls, the Gujarat government has invited leaders from the community for talks to bring an amicable solution to the ongoing quota stir.
Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel today said the state government as well as BJP leaders will hold talks with Patel quota agitators and other community leaders on September 26 with an aim to end the quota agitation.
"Recently, various community leaders urged the government to bring an amicable solution regarding the ongoing quota stir. Thus, we have called a meeting on September 26 at Gandhinagar to discuss the issue. We will hold discussions with around 100 Patidar leaders," said Patel in a statement.
He said that along with the leaders associated with quota bodies - Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) and Sardar Patel Group (SPG)- people associated with various social and religious Patel organisations, such as Umiya Dham and Khodal Dham, are also invited for the meeting.
Among other government functionaries, state BJP president Jitubhai Vaghani would also remain present during the meeting, said the statement.
Earlier on August 6, the state government had made a similar announcement of holding a meeting with agitators but did not give any specific date.
During last two years, couple of meetings did take place, but they yielded no positive outcome.
More recently, relations between the agitators and the ruling BJP has deteriorated after Nitin Patel termed Hardik as a "Congress agent" last month.
This was followed by quota spearhead Hardik Patel's arrest in a a case of assault in Patan last month.
Two weeks back, PAAS members created ruckus at an event of state BJP Yuva Morcha president Rutvij Patel in Surat. PAAS had also issued a warning that BJP leaders must not hold any programme in Patidar dominated areas.
After being released on bail recently, Hardik launched a fierce attack on the BJP and vowed to defeat it in the forthcoming Assembly polls. He even asked Patidars to ban entry of BJP leaders into their society during poll campaign.
Commenting on the latest invite from the government, Hardik's close aide and senior PAAS member Lalit Vasoya said the meeting is an attempt by the BJP to save its face in the polls.
"This is not the first time we are invited to hold talks. Nothing had transpired in the earlier meetings. Since elections are approaching, the BJP has called us for talks, as no party, be it the BJP or Congress, can ignore such a decisive vote bank during polls," said Vasoya.
"Nonetheless, we will attend the meeting if they are ready to accept our demands, such as granting reservation to us under the OBC quota, compensation or government job to the kin of those who died during the stir in 2015 and action against policemen who killed our Patel youths during the stir," said Vasoya.