In their bid to pacify the agitated Patidar community, government has announced 10% reservation for Economically Backward Classes (EBC). This is the first verdict in the state of Gujarat, that has been powered by the agrarian community of Patidars.
The ordinance on the EBC quota will be issued on May 1, on Gujarat’s Foundation Day, and would be applicable for an annual income cap of Rs 6 lakh to Rs 50,000. Thus, the ordinance will also include upper-caste people, who coincidentally, offer their support to BJP.
This is being considered as a political gamble and smacks of tokenism by BJP to secure the votes of the Patidar community, which forms a large chunk of BJP supporters in the state.
The ordinance is led by national president Amit Shah, along with Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, and Gujarat BJP chief and cabinet minister Vijay Rupani.
The Patidar agitation, led by Hardik Patel was initiated in July last year, so as to include the Patidar community into OBC category.
Legally, there will be problems given the Supreme Court’s 50% cap on reservation. Currently in Gujarat, Other Backward Castes (OBCs) posses 27% quota, the Scheduled Castes (SCs) gets 7% and Scheduled Tribes (STs) have 15% reservation.
Following the ordinance, many agitated leaders have termed the ordinance as ‘lollipop’, as it is being passed just to control the agitation. Some leaders have welcomed the stance, but that won’t deter them from demanding a place in the OBC category.
What is left to be seen is whether other communities like the Muslims or the Christians, will enjoy the reservation as it has been declared on an economic basis, in the general category?
With the ordinance, BJP has taken a very safe maneuver. It has, somehow, pacified the Patidars by providing reservations, while not offending the OBC community who agitated against the inclusion of Patidars. Also, it has managed to secure a large chunk of its voters before the 2017 polls.
What really matters is whether the needy will enjoy the perks of the reservation, or is it going to be juggled by the powerful who claim to be powerless?