Leaders of different caste groups protesting for reservation for own community members on Monday welcomed the idea per se to award 10 per cent reservation for people in economically weaker sections among the general category but asked how the government will implement it.
In Ahmedabad, Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel and his former colleague Reshma Patel, who joined the BJP just before 2017 Assembly elections, appeared to be on the same page, both calling it an “election lollipop”. Wondering whether the decision is “another election jumla, like the promise to create 2 crore jobs each year and depositing Rs 15 lakh in each bank account”, Hardik said, “I welcome it if it is done through Constitutional amendment, but not if it is simply an election gimmick aimed at attracting votes.”
Reshma Patel said, “I welcome it only if it is implemented before 2019 (polls). If the government delays and says it will be implemented after Lok Sabha polls, then it will like a poll lollipop.”
The Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti led by Hardik is demanding inclusion of the community under OBC quota.
Stating that their demand for quota to Jats in Haryana still “stands”, Yashpal Malik of All-India Jat Aarakshan Sanghrash Samiti (AIJASS) called the decision a “poll stunt”. He said, “Jats get reservation under OBC category in states such as Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar and Gujarat. It’s not clear whether the Centre will include them under OBC category or the new 10-per cent category. For clarity, we will wait for a notification.”
Malik had launched an agitation on quota for Jatas in 2016.
In Maharashtra, Nanasaheb Kute, convener of Maratha Kranti Morcha, said, “This seems to be an election jumla. There is lack of coordination in BJP on giving reservation to economically backward upper castes. While Maharashtra has given 16 per cent reservation to the Maratha community, the Centre now gives 10 per cent. Once the government issues a notification, it is likely to be legally challenged by many.”
Virendra Pawar, another leader of the Maratha outfit, said, “It is a welcome move but…if it does not stand legal scrutiny, it will be an election jumla.”
In Rajasthan, Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla said, “They (government) have crossed the 50-per cent ceiling (for quota). So there should be no problem granting reservation to Gujjars under Special Backward Classes (SBCs).” His bête noire Himmat Singh said, “In 2013, the Congress had given reservation to Jats just before Lok Sabha elections. It was stuck in Supreme Court. This is a similar experience – just a jumla. They are not talking of inclusion in the Ninth Schedule of Constitution, without which it is powerless.”