President of BJP’s Gujarat unit Ranchhod Faldu on Sunday said the state government should look into the demand for quota not only by the Patidars, but also by the poor families from other upper caste communities, even as a party MLA extended support to the ongoing agitation by the Patel youth for OBC status and reservation benefits.
“Taking into account the sensitivity of the issue, we told the government it is high time that it gave a serious thought to the difficulties faced not only by children of the Patidars, but also by children of economically backward families of other upper castes. And, I am happy that Chief Minister Anandiben Patel has taken this subject seriously and has set up a high-level committee,” Faldu told reporters on Sunday. He was in Rajkot for a meeting with the party workers from Saurasthra region.
This is for the first time that the ruling party chief has spoken publicly on the demand for reservation by the influential Patel community. Faldu himself hails from the community.
Meanwhile, speaking at a ceremony to felicitate meritorious students in Dhari town of Amreli district, local BJP MLA Nalin Kotadiya said he supported the agitation by the Patidars. “The government is concerned over the issue. The Chief Minister, members of Cabinet, MLAs are discussing to ensure justice to the Patel community, and I am sure the issue will be resolved amicably. But, having been born in a Patel family and having been elected MLA by votes of Patels, it is my moral duty to stand by them. Therefore, if Patel community wishes that I should resign as an MLA and support them openly, I am ready to do so,” Kotadiya told a news channel after the event.
Incidentally, Kotadiya was elected from Dhari on a ticket of Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP), then headed by former chief minister Keshubhai Patel. However, GPP merged with BJP last year and Kotadiya became an MLA of the ruling party.
The Patidars have been taking out rallies across Gujarat for almost a month now, demanding reservation for youth of the community in government jobs and admission to educational institutes. Leaders of the agitation argue that despite better academic records, the Partidar youth were losing out to candidates from other communities in government jobs and securing admission to educational institutes due to reservation policy. This, they claim, was leading the Patidar youth on a “wrong path”. Several Patel organisations, such as Shree Khodaldham Trust in Rajkot, have also supported the stir and offered to mediate between the agitators and the government.