Stating that the Narendra Modi government should try and address the demands for reservation made by Patidars, Marathas, Jats and Rajputs before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Union Minister of State for Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale on Friday offered to act as a mediator between Patidar leader Hardik Patel and the ruling BJP.
“I had told Hardik that by staying with the Congress, Patidars will not get reservation. Hardik should join forces with (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi and the BJP. I appeal to him to discuss the issue once with the government,” said Athawale while talking about the Patidar Ananmat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader who is on an indefinite fast seeking reservation for the Patel community in Gujarat.
“I am ready to become a mediator. I will take you to Narendra Modi and we will do something about Patidar reservation… There is no profit in supporting Rahul Gandhi,” the minister said, addressing mediapersons after a day-long tour of Lunavada in Mahisagar district.
When asked if he would meet Hardik, Athawale said he would reach out to him over the phone and “make him understand”.
“I met Hardik at a wedding recently. I shook hands with him. But I told myself there is no point simply shaking hands like this. You should join hands for elections,” Athawale said.
Batting for reservation for the general category whose annual income is below Rs 8 lakh, the minister said the Modi government should try and resolve the demands of the Patidars in Gujarat, Marathas in Maharashtra, Jats in Haryana and Rajputs in Rajasthan before Lok Sabha elections. “I will talk to the PM and see if a decision can be reached before polls,” he said, adding that 25 per cent of the unreserved seats should be reserved for the economically poor among the general category. Athawale said that his Republican Party of India was in favour of reservation to communities from general category without touching the reservations for SCs, STs and OBCs.