Gujarat Elections: Congress to field eight candidates recommended by Hardik
For upcoming Gujarat elections, Congress and Patidar leader Hardik Patel have finally landed on the same page. Congress has agreed to Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convener Hardik's demands for reservations; moreover, it will also field 7-8 candidates recommended by Hardik. Reports suggest that Congress thought Hardik's demands were "reasonable." However, Congress and Hardik have faced many roadblocks before reaching an agreement. Here's more.
How did the Congress-PAAS talks progress until now?
The Congress-PAAS meeting on October 30 ended on a high note, with Congress accepting four of PAAS's five demands. These included withdrawing all cases, including sedition, against Patidars. However, the issue of OBC quotas was to be decided after consulting constitutional experts. Later, senior leader Kapil Sibal, in a midnight meeting, provided three reservation options to PAAS. PAAS decided to ponder over those options.
What were the aspects that made the Congress-PAAS ride bumpy?
Gujarat has 50% reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs; 50% is the SC-set limit. Patidars want inclusion in the state's OBCs, enjoying 27% reservation in colleges and jobs; but, OBCs are opposed to this. Moreover, PAAS had outrightly rejected economically backward class reservations, terming it constitutionally invalid. Regarding BJP's claims that Patidars can't get constitutionally-valid reservation, Sibal had assured of finding "some way."
With Hardik on board now, what is Congress's situation?
Apart from Hardik, Dalit activist Jignesh Mewani has also assured Congress of his support, but has refused to join them. OBC leader Alpesh Thakore, already aligned with the Congress, is demanding 10-15 tickets; this demand will be considered by Congress after scrutinizing the suggested candidates' winnability. As Patidars' and OBCs' demands impinge on each other, Congress faces a tough task of sustaining this alliance.