We accept Congress formula on reservations: Hardik

We accept Congress formula on reservations: Hardik

In what could  be a shot in the arm for the Congress in the Gujarat Assembly polls, Patel quota stir leader Hardik Patel on Wednesday declared that they are formally accepting the formula given by the Congress on the quotas sought by his community.

"Congress has accepted demand for reservations not just to the Patel community but to all the other communities in unreserved category. Their formula constitutionally provides for benefits equal to the OBCs. When it comes to power, it will pass a proposal for reservations under Article 31-C and Article 46 of the Constitution without altering the current 49% quotas for SC/ST and OBC categories. We can be given more than 50% reservation constitutionally,"  Hardik  told mediapersons.

Hardik said that as per the Congress' formula, the communities mentioned in Article 46, who have not received  any benefits under Article 15 (4) and Article 16 (4), would be provided all the benefits currently provided to the OBC community.

For this purpose, he said, a special category for some communities may be created or some other name be given.

The state government will talk to all the stakeholders and set up a separate commission.

"Congress has promised that a survey would be carried out among the Patels  and  other forward communities as per the provisions of the OBC commission, and based on  economic, social, educational and employment parameters,  those provisions would be used to extend reservation benefits to those communities," he said.

"The Congress will have to put their reservation formula, with details, in their manifesto," the Patidar stir leader said.

When  pointed out that many courts had underlined that quotas could not exceed the 50% limit,  Hardik claimed that it had not been mentioned in the Constitution that quotas could not exceed 50%.

"The Supreme Court has only given suggestions on this. There is neither any law nor provision in the Constitution (in this regard)," he said.

He claimed that since 1994, many states, including Gujarat, have given quotas beyond 50% and in states such as Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, such quotas have been given for over 15-17 years.

Hardik said that he was accepting the formula not just on behalf of his organisation, the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, but after having spoken to several community leaders and having informed heads of the key religious organisations, Khodaldham and Umiyadham.

However, heads of both these organisations denied having received any details about the Congress formula.

"I expect that we should receive the formula sometime today (Wednesday) and then we will get it verified by senior constitutional lawyers and then announce our stance," Paresh Gajera, head of Khodaldham Trust, said.

"This is time of elections and we are an apolitical organization. We, however, believe that reservations must be given to Patels as more than 60% of Patels are living in poverty. We are neutral and do not support any political party - only people who work for us," he said.

On the other hand, chairperson of the Unjha Umiyadham Trust, Vikram Patel,  said  Hardik was lying and no one from his organisation had been informed or spoken to on the issue.

"You cannot get reservations as per the Constitution. Though we believe that all the deserving communities must get reservations, it can be given only by those who are in majority in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha," he said.

The ruling BJP rejected the formula stating that a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court had already struck down quotas beyond 50%.

"I am forecasting that in the first place, Congress will not come to power in Gujarat and even if they do, they would only say that we tried, but the Supreme Court struck down the proposal," Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel told mediapersons.

"They are just trying to fool people, and these boys, who are moving around on the funds of the Congress, will not be able to fool the people of Gujarat," he said.

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