Under pressure due to Patel quota agitation, BJP government in Gujarat today announced 10 per cent reservation for the economically backward among upper castes, which include Patidars, with a family income cap of Rs 6 lakh a year to avail the benefit.
The decision, taken in the state party’s core group meeting in which BJP national president Amit Shah was also present, comes after the recent reverses in the civic polls left the party jittery in the state where Assembly election are due next year.
The reservation limit of 50 per cent set by the apex court will be breached with this decision, but the state government said it is “serious” on the issue and will “fight it” out legally.
State BJP president Vijay Rupani, flanked by Chief Minister Anandiben Patel and senior minister Nitin Patel, made the announcement of 10 per cent reservation for the economically backward in the general category.
“Our core group meeting, headed by national president Amit Shah, has decided to give 10 per cent reservation for economically backward among general category,” Rupani told reporters.
“A notification will be issued on the Gujarat state formation day on May 1, and EBCs among general category will be able to take the benefit of the reservation in education and jobs from the next academic year,” he said.
“Families having an annual income of Rs 6 lakh or below will be eligible to avail the reservation. That means a family having an income upto Rs 50,000 per month can take the benefit of the scheme,” he said.
The reservation announced by the government will be over and above the cap of 50 per cent reservation set by the Supreme Court, and may face legal hurdles. The state government already provides 50 per cent reservation to SC/STs and OBCs.
Asked if the new move will stand legal scrutiny, Rupani said, “We are very serious about this and we will fight it up to the apex court for reservation of economically backward among the general category.”
The BJP government has been facing violent protests led by Hardik Patel and Lalji Patel from the numerically and socially strong Patel community which is seeking reservation in education and government jobs under the OBC category.
The BJP had suffered heavy losses in the rural local bodies polls recently, which were blamed on the Patel quota stir.