Cong offers 3 options, PAAS to take a decision

The Congress, which is desperately seeking support of Patel community in the upcoming elections, has proposed three options for granting reservation to the community. The same were conveyed to representatives of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), which is spearheading the reservation stir at a late night meeting on Wednesday.

Officials said that senior Congress leader and lawyer Kapil Sibal, who was tasked by the party to find ways that reservation benefits can be given to Patels, met with PAAS office bearers around midnight and conveyed the same to them. The nearly 3-hour meeting culminated at 2:00 am.

Besides Sibal, Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki, and senior leaders Arjun Modhwadia, Shaktisinh Gohil, and Siddharth Patel represented the Congress in the meeting.

Dinesh Bambhania, convener of PAAS, said that the party has given them three options for providing reservation to the community in government jobs and higher education.

Neither Bambhania nor the Congress leaders divulged the three options.

Bambhania said they will first discuss the proposals with quota stir leader Hardik Patel and hold wider consultations with community leaders and legal experts before taking a call on them. He, however, did reveal that the proposals do not touch 49 per cent quota for SCs, STs and OBCs.

Gujarat Congress vice president Babu Mangukiya said that the meeting was excellent.

“We have made our proposals to them informing them how the Patidar community will be given reservation. We have been told that PAAS will get back to us after discussions with Hardik and others. We expect to have another meeting very shortly, maybe within the next two or three days,” Mangukia said.

After the meeting Sibal said that they discussed all aspects and will do everything as per the Constitution to provide reservation to Patidar community. He too said that they will meet again in two-three days where they will discuss the possible solutions.

While Hardik Patel has made it clear that he is opposed to the BJP, he has not yet extended support to the Congress in the elections. Hardik, who was not present at last night’s meeting, had said last month that he would support the party only if it fulfilled the reservation demand. He had asked Congress to make its stand clear by November 7.

Patidars are a highly influential community in Gujarat, accounting for the largest share of MLAs. In 2012, as many as 48 or over 26 per cent of the 182 elected MLAs were Patels. The community is especially influential in Saurashtra, north Gujarat and some parts of central Gujarat, besides several seats in Ahmedabad and Surat cities.