Gujarat Polls: BJP, Congress trade barbs over Patel quota

RSTV Bureau

BJP on Wednesday questioned the agreement reached between the Congress and Patidar leader Hardik Patel over reservation for the Patel community, saying the two are deceiving each other over what is legally untenable.

“The Congress-Hardik club is one of mutual deception. Legally and constitutionally that (breaching the 50 per cent cap on reservation) is not possible as the law stands,” Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.

Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Arun Jaitley addresses the media after a cabinet meeting, in New Delhi on Wednesday. Union Law & Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is also seen.

Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Arun Jaitley addresses the media after a cabinet meeting, in New Delhi on Wednesday. Union Law & Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is also seen.

He said that in elections, only promises which can be implemented should be made to each other and the public.

Jaitley said the law of the land is very clear and that is laid down by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court in its verdict in the Mandal Commission case ruled that the total reservation for SC/ST and other backward classes or special categories should not exceed 50 per cent.

Referring to the failed bid for awarding quota to Gujjars in Rajasthan, he said the judiciary has re-affirmed that the 50 per cent cap cannot be increased.

“So let them continue to deceive each other and deceive the public by saying that they will device a methodology to breach the gap,” he said.

Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel with Dinesh Bhambaniya during a press conference in Ahmedabad on Wednesday. PTI Photo by Santosh Hirlekar

Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel with Dinesh Bhambaniya during a press conference in Ahmedabad on Wednesday. PTI Photo by Santosh Hirlekar

He said that by citing Article 31 C of the Constitution, one can claim that reservation can be put in the IXth Schedule. But, he cautioned, that the entry in the IXth Schedule is also subject to judicial review and can be struck down.

Responding to a question on “chaiwala” meme aimed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi by the Youth Congress, Jaitley said it is the strength of the Indian democracy which allowed a person from a humble background defeat the “mightiest; those who do politics in the name of family and dynasty”.

“There is no big or small family in democracy today. If Congress has not learnt this lesson, it will never learn it,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Hardik Patel declared his support to the Congress in the Gujarat elections, to be held in two phases on December 9 and December 14, and said the opposition party had accepted its demand for reservation for the community.

The PAAS leader said the Congress would include the extension of reservation benefit to Patidars in its election manifesto.

The Congress, which has mounted a hectic campaign to dislodge the long-ruling BJP in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and saffron party chief Amit Shah, has been wooing the Patel stir spearhead for quite some time.

Congress leader Kapil Sibal thanked Patidar leader Hardik Patel for declaring his support to the party in the Gujarat Assembly polls after it accepted the community’s quota demand.

Sibal, who had held meetings with the PAAS leadership on the quota issue earlier, also accused the ruling BJP of betraying the community’s trust by not doing anything for it during its 22-year rule in the state.

“We are very happy that a ‘sanjha morcha’ (united front) will now fight against the BJP… We thank him that they (PAAS) have joined us with an ideology to contest the election by coming together… Our target is to win the election and fulfil promises made to the people,” Sibal told reporters