Revival of Patel quota agitation
Success of Jats in Haryana a cause of inspiration
Five months ago, when the Gujarat government slapped sedition charges on Patidar leader Hardik Patel and took a tough stand it seemed that the state government of Gujarat is strong enough to stand against politically-influential community but the day Mohan Lal Khattar's Haryana government accepted the demands of Jats for reservation it gave Patidars a second wind as a result the Patel community again came on streets of Mehsana the home district of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, inspired by the sucess story of Jats in Haryana as they are no way different from the Jats.
The sucess of Jats in Haryana proved that the main qualifications for getting reservation is an electorally significant population, and the skills needed to mobilise the community, manage the media and mount a successful campaign to coerce the state.
Patel community constitute nearly 15 percent of Gujarat's population and like Jats even they do not fulfill the criteria for inclusion among OBCs but since Khattar accepted the demands of the Jats, Patels are convinced that a mass agitation in Gujarat will bring the BJP down on its knees.
Patels are demanding 10 percent reservation in education institutions and governmental jobs but the state government has rejected the demand citing the 50 percent reservation cap imposed by Supreme Court, in their 1992 judgement but this fact was ignored in Haryana while extending quota benefits to Jats after their violent stir earlier this year.
How Patel quota agitation started ?
⇒ In Gujarat, 27% of seats are reserved for OBC, 7.5% for Scheduled Castes and 15% for Scheduled Tribes for a total of 49.5% of all seats. The Supreme Court has capped the maximum reservation at 50% in their 1992 judgement.
⇒ In 1981, the Government of Gujarat, headed by Indian National Congress (INC) chief minister Madhavsinh Solanki, introduced the reservation for socially and economically backward castes (SEBC) based on recommendations of the Bakshi Commission.
⇒ The reservation resulted in anti-reservation agitation across the state which spilled over in riots resulting in more than one hundred deaths following which Solanki had to resign in 1985 but later returned to power winning 149 out of 182 assembly seats as he was strongly supported by Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi and Muslims, collectively called KHAM.
⇒ The socially and economically backward castes (SEBC) which initially contained 81 communities later expanded to 146 communities by 2014. The reserved seats were 10% in 1980s which was subsequently increased to 27% by 2014.
⇒ The system of reservation caused dissatisfaction among Patidar youths in Gujarat following which they started public demonstrations across Gujarat starting July 2015.They were supported by Sardar Patel Sevadal, an organisation for community service.
⇒ The youth seek Other Backward Class status for community to get reservation in government jobs and education. The youth formed Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) for the purpose headed by Hardik Patel.
⇒ The other major community organisations which are participation in the agitation include Sardar Patel Group (SPG) headed by Lalji Patel, Sardar Patel Seva Dal, Patidar Sankalan Samiti, Patidar Arakshan Samiti and Sardar Sena.
⇒ The demonstrations were held in different areas of Gujarat in which several vehicles, buses and public properties worth over 200 crores were damaged. To bring the situation back to normal 3500 paramilitary forces personnel and 93 companies of the state reserve police was deployed.
Who is Hardik Patel ?
Hardik Patel was born on 20 July 1993 in a Gujarati Patidar family. He was an average student and a cricket enthusiast. After completing Class XII, Hardik started helping his father, Bharat, to run a small business of fixing submersible pumps in underground water wells.
In 2010 Hardik joined Sahajanand College, Ahmedabad for a Bachelor of Commerce (B. Com.) degree. He completed his B. Com. degree with grace marks after 2 attempts from college with less than 50% marks.
Political career :
He joined the Sardar Patel Group (SPG) a Patidar youth body and within less than a month, became president of its Viramgam unit (Place of his residence).
After interacting with Patidar youth he found that Patidar youth faced challenges while securing private sector jobs because of a slow economy and getting government jobs was already tough task because of reservation quotas and the expectation of bribes.
In July 2015 his sister failed to qualify for a state government scholarship while her friend qualified for the same scholarship through the Other Backward Class (OBC) quota even though she had scored lower marks.
Recognizing the policies that were benefiting other castes but not Patidars Hardik formed the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), a non-political organization that aims to get Patidars included in the OBC quota.