Gandhinagar: Firebrand Patidar leader Hardik Patel on Thursday made a strong pitch for reservations for his Patel community before the State OBC Commission, seeing an opportunity to force the Gujarat Government after neighbouring Maharashtra extended quota benefits to the Marathas.
Patel submitted an 11-page memorandum to the OBC Commission here giving his Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti's reasons why the Patels (or Patidars) in the state should be extended the benefits of reservation in governments job and educational benefits under the other backward classes (OBC) category.
Hardik Patel, 25, and all the 25 co-convenors of the PAAS submitted the memorandum to Commission chairperson Sugnyaben Bhatt, a retired judge of the Gujarat High Court.
He later claimed that the chairperson gave a "very sympathetic" hearing to their demands and had also expressed the opinion that it was constitutionally possible to grant reservation benefits beyond 49 per cent under certain circumstances.
Patel argued that if the BJP government in Maharashtra could grant reservation benefits to the Marathas on the basis of the report of the OBC Commission there, why the Gujarat Government belonging to the same party was not willing to even consider the same for the Patidars.
The PAAS memorandum requested the OBC Commission to undertake a detailed survey of the social and economic conditions of the Patels, particularly in the Saurashtra region, where a large majority of them worked as farm labourers and were very poor and backward.
The BJP Government in Gujarat had through the over three-year long agitation by PAAS maintained that the Supreme Court had frozen quotas to 49 per cent in the State, including 14 per cent for tribals, seven for Scheduled Castes and 27 per cent for OBCs.