Even as hectic meetings are under way in Gandhinagar to select the new chief minister, the BJP government in Gujarat suffered a major blow on Thursday when the High Court termed the 10 per cent reservation quota announced by the government as “unconstitutional”.
The reservation was announced ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s US visit to quell the Patidar agitation. The Patidars have been demanding reservation for over 18 months now.
In the presence of former chief minister Anandiben Patel and senior minister Nitin Patel, state BJP President Vijay Rupani had, on April 29, told reporters in Gandhingar that the government would bring in a notification on May 1—Gujarat Day. The income limit of the family to be eligible for the reservation was kept at less than Rs 6 lakh annually.
As promised, a notification was brought on May 1. Sources in the knowhow of the development said court decision would also affect the admissions to various colleges that have taken place in the current academic year. It remains to be seen how the state government goes about handling this issue.
The decision to give 10 per cent reservation to those from the non-reserved category belonging to Economically Backward Classes (EBC) was taken at a meeting where national BJP president Amit Shah was present, apart from Anandiben, senior ministers and key party persons from the state.
The reservation was in addition to the financial assistance that was announced by the chief minister last year for the meritorious students from non-reserved categories. “That scheme will continue. We want students to study,” Anandiben had quipped.
The government has decided to move the Supreme Court against the High Court decision. Rupani had reacted to the court order saying the party would react after studying legal angles.
The BJP had suffered reserves in the elections to civic bodies and panchayats last year and much of it has been attributed to the Patel ire. In the Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation election results announced earlier this week, the BJP and the Congress shared 16 seats each in the 32-seat civic body. Though the BJP managed to contain the Congress, its performance is not being considered good for a party that has been ruling Gujarat for over 15 years now and Gandhinagar being the capital.
Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convener Hardik Patel, who is in Udaipur, alleged that the state government had tried to misguide the Patidars. PAAS further demanded the Patels be given reservation without disturbing the reservation given to other castes.