The state-wide agitation by economically and politically powerful Patidar community demanding reservation in education and government jobs from the Other Backward Classes (OBC) quota has put 37 BJP MLAs from this community, including Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, in a catch-22 situation.
With the first round of talks between the seven-member ministerial committee and the Patidar leaders ended in a stalemate, they are in a dilemma whether to support the ongoing agitation or toe the party line which disapproves of the stir.
Sardar Patel Sevadal, in a rally at Kalol in Gandhinagar on Thursday, announced `to teach a lesson to the BJP in coming civic polls’. Over 300 local bodies will be going to polls later in September/October. At Jotana in Mehsana district, the locals distributed leaflets containing a transcript of an alleged conversation with Chief Minister Anandiben Patel seeking to open a local taluka office. Patel refused to listen their demands. The BJP ministers, MLAs and other leaders have so far maintained silence over this issue.
Former agriculture minister Bechar Bhadani, recently resigned as chairman of the BJP’s Kisan Morcha, in support of the quota agitation. Earlier this week, Dhari BJP MLA Nalin Kotadia became the first from 37 Patidar MLAs and also from 126 BJP MLAs to extend support to the agitation.
BJP state chief Ranchoddas Faldu, who is also Patidar, after disapproving of its OBC demand, last week hinted that the state government should listen to the community. Earlier, Visnagar BJP MLA Rishikesh Patel did not register an FIR though agitating mob on July 16 had ransacked his office, as he had not turned up in support of the stir.