The Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leaders who held a meeting with senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal on granting reservation status to the Patel community in Gujarat say the Congress party has “the political will” to grant the community reservation, while the ruling BJP has only given them “lollipops”. According to the PAAS, there were no set proposals forwarded by the grand old party regarding the reservation during the talks held with Sibal on Wednesday night, but various means and ways to grant that were discussed during the three-hour meeting. “The Congress did not give us any formula or any fixed method through which the Patidar community could be granted reservation status in the state. However, during the three-hour meeting, we discussed all the ways in which the community can be given the reservation,” said PAAS leader Dinesh Bambhania. “But one thing is certain that the Congress has the political will to grant the community reservation status, whereas the BJP did not show any and they just gave us lollipops,” said Bambhania.
The PAAS leader said both sides have not arrived at a conclusion and further meetings are on with the grand old party. “We have not been able to discuss the meeting fully with even Hardik Patel yet, as he is unwell since yesterday (Thursday). He just got up from his rest. We will discuss all this with him and also with the community’s leaders about the various ways of getting reservation status.” Meanwhile, the agitating community group had all plans ready to oppose the ruling BJP in the state. “We are holding a big road show against the saffron party on November 26 in Rajkot, and right now we are into preparations for that. Whether we support the Congress or not in the coming elections that needs to be seen, but one thing we are certain is that we don’t want the BJP government at any cost,” said Bambhania.
There was even speculation that in the Wednesday meeting, there were discussions with the Congress regarding fielding PAAS members for the state assembly elections from the Congress. Rubbishing that, Bambhania said, “All that is gossip and nothing else. During the entire time we spent in the meeting, nothing else was discussed other than the reservation status to the community.”
The Patidar community is a highly influential one in Gujarat politics, accounting for the largest share of MLAs. Out of the total 182 seats of the state assembly, there are 48 coming from the community. The community has dominance in the Saurashtra and the north regions of Gujarat. The community also enjoys big influence in south Gujarat cities like Surat and Valsad.