Putting forward Patidar community’s demand for reservation under Other Backward Class (OBC) category, Patidar quota leader Hardik Patel on Thursday submitted an 11-page application before Gujarat State OBC Commission chairperson Sugnya Bhatt, urging her to undertake a detailed survey of the community.
In his application, Hardik also mentioned about the deteriorating condition of farmers in Gujarat while holding BJP, which has been in power for the past 25 years, and its policies responsible for the same. He also accused the BJP of playing vote-bank politics by including some undeserving communities under the OBC fold.
“Those Patidars who got government jobs after 1960 have prospered economically and they moved ahead in business also. However, those who were only attached to farming have remained poor. Their land is lost and have gone backward socially. They require reservation,” said Hardik in the application.
In this context, Hardik has further stated that those farmers who had water available to them for irrigation through canals have prospered whereas, those who depended on natural farming without that facility have remained backward. “Had Narmada water been available for irrigation before 20 years, 18 lakh hectares of land could have been irrigated. Moreover, had Kalpsar Project been completed, none of the communities in Saurashtra would have required reservation. Due to these three reasons and due to those families that remained deprived, lots of problems in political, economic and social spheres have arisen,” he said.
Giving out figures (without any attribution) in Gujarat, Hardik has stated that 48 per cent of the total population of Gujarat (58.71 lakh families) live in villages. “Out of them, 39.30 lakh families are associated with farming. And among them, 10.30 lakh farmers are tribals,1.52 lakh families are from Scheduled Castes, 16.56 lakh families are from backward communities. Whereas, 9.91 lakh families are Patidars and belong to other social classes, while 1.96 farmers live in urban areas,” he said in the application.
“As per the situation in 2017, the number of farmers has gone down by 3.55 lakh in the last 10 years due to anti-farmer policy of BJP… In 2001, farmers’ share in total population was 27.30 which has gone down to 22 per cent in 2011. And as per an estimate, the number has come down to 20 per cent in November 2018,” said Hardik in the application.
According to him, the number of farm labourers has increased significantly. “Farmers divested of their farms are turning to farm labour work. And due to this, the number of farm labourers has increased significantly. And the number of Patidars in it is more and therefore reservation is now required,” reads the application.
“In the next 50 years, the number of farm labourers will be 80 per cent and rural poverty will increase. And if one wants to prevent this, a survey must be ordered immediately to give reservation to rural Patidar community,” he added.
According to Hardik’s application, “Gujarat farmers have debt of Rs 24,000 crore. And the reason behind it is worsening economic and social condition of farmers. And Patidar farmers are its maximum victims because till 1980, Patidars had maximum land. But, it is no longer the same now.”
The application further said that the size of agriculture land (cultivable) in Gujarat is decreasing significantly. “In 10 years, 11 lakh hectares and in 22 years, 18 lakh hectares land has decreased during BJP rule,” it said. It further claims that the number of medium, small, and marginalised farmers has also gone up. And these farmers eventually sell off their land and turn to labour work.
Claiming that former Chief Minister Anandiben Patel wanted to give OBC reservation to the Patidars, Hardik said: “However, as soon as Anandiben began the procedure for it, some anti-Patidar leaders from Delhi had decided to politically remove her.”
He has also alleged that during the Chief Ministership of Narendra Modi in Gujarat, Modh-Ghanchi (Modi) community was included into the OBC fold. “Details of the survey should be made public to include the community in OBC (category). And similar survey should be done for Patidar community,” Hardik has said in the application.
In another allegation against BJP, Hardik said, “Since 2012, 146 communities are eligible for reservation in government jobs and education under OBC reservation. Every year, there is addition to it. Indulging in vote-bank politics and violating laws, some communities have been wrongly included in the list.”
In his application, Hardik has specifically demanded reservation for Patidars within OBC quota. “We demand that Patidars be given OBC reservation by continuing and without changing the reservation which other communities are getting,” the application read. After submitting his application to the OBC Commission, Hardik said that its chairperson, has accepted the application and said that within a week’s time she will call seven persons of their committee to meet her on the issue. “We have also assured her of our full cooperation,” Hardik said.
Hardik also added that he discussed with Bhatt the recent decision of Maharashtra government to give reservation to the Marathas. He also said, “Sugnyaben has accepted our point that more than 50 per cent reservation can be given.” “Today, after Maharashtra government’s decision, there is a new hope in Patidar youths,” Hardik said.
He said that 44 other applications from different Patidar groups, seeking OBC reservation for Patidars is pending before the Commission. “However, so far, the Commission has not got a survey done for the same. We have requested the Commission to order survey of Patidar community immediately,” Hardik added.
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