It appears that there is no stopping the Gujarat government from making a slew of freebie announcements and concessions before the Election Commission announces the date for assembly polls in Gujarat.
On Thursday, two hours before the Election Commission convened a press conference in New Delhi to announce the date for elections in Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said in Gandhinagar that the state government would withdraw 136 cases against the Patidars. Earlier, 235 cases were withdrawn.
For the last two years, Patidars have been demanding reservation under the OBC category; in the violence that erupted in the aftermath of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convenor Hardik Patel's public meeting on August 25, 2015, 14 Patidars lost their lives.
The deputy chief minister said that the process to withdraw cases against 136 persons was almost complete.
PAAS convener Patel termed the announcement election-oriented and said that there were no more scope for talks. The state government is still undecided about withdrawing sedition charges against Hardik Patel. The deputy chief minister said a decision on withdrawing the sedition charges would be taken separately.
One of the Patidar leaders reacted by saying that the state government was only withdrawing minor cases. According to him, there are over 1,400 ones.
In a bid to please the Class IV staff, the state government also announced a Diwali bonus of Rs 3,500.
In another significant decision, the government announced a one per cent increase in Dearness Allowance for government employees. This will lead to a burden of Rs 273 crore on the state government. The DA for around 8 lakh employees has been raised from 4 per cent to 5 per cent.
Setting up 16 new Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) estates, reducing VAT on petrol and diesel, and buying groundnut at minimum support price are among the several decisions taken in less than a month.
Chief Election Commissioner A.K. Jyoti has already hinted that the Gujarat polls will be held before December 18, 2017.
With this, there are still a couple of days before the notification for the election is issued and a model code of conduct comes into force.
If sources close to the state government are to be believed, there is a distinct possibility of more announcements being made.