Gujarat government on Friday announced 10 percent reservation for economically backward classes (EBC) in the state. Candidates who have an annual family income of six lakhs or more will not be eligible for reservation, Chief Minister Anandiben Patel said. The reservation will be effective from 1 May.
The announcement of the quota of 10 percent for the EBCs in the general category is widely seen as a move to appease the influential Patel or Patidar community. The decision was taken after a core group meeting of the state unit of the BJP, which was also attended by national president, Amit Shah.
The shock loss in civic polls last year and the fact that the state is due for election next year is said to have influenced the BJPs decision to announce the quota.
The Patidar community led by Hardik Patel had mounted an aggressive campaign for other back ward community (OBC) status in Gujarat.
Patidar leaders said the announcement of 10 percent quota for EBC’s were a ploy to weaken their case. They said the new move to increase reservation will not stand scrutiny in a court of law. The quota in Gujarat now adds up to 60 percent, which is above the cap of 50 percent fixed by the supreme court. BJP leaders claimed the Gujarat government was willing to fight the legal challenges, which may arise due to the increase in quota.
Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) has been spearheading a campaign seeking OBC status for the community, which falls under general category now. 12 people were killed in the violent pro-quota protests that rocked Gujarat last August.
PAAS convener Hardik and five of his key aides have been in prison for almost 200 days now. Three of his aides have been granted bail by the Gujarat High Court on Thursday. Hardik has been slapped with two sedition charges.
The 22 year old became the face of the Patel agitation after his address to a crowd of some eight lakh Patidars in Ahmedabad on 25 August. Angry demonstrations that erupted across the western state for three days damaged properties and vehicles worth crores.
Hardik was arrested on 18 October following his plan to blockade a stadium in Rajkot where India-South Africa one day cricket match was being held. Though his lawyer says there is not enough proof to keep him prison, the police have added other charges like “possessing a mobile phone while in custody.”