Asked by a participant how the BJP government was dealing with the Patidar agitation, Mr Shah said the government had asked the protesters to follow the "legal process" but the "direction of the agitation has changed".
"Observe the development and you will realise that slowly it has become an agitation backed by one political party. People had joined the agitation emotionally but its self-styled organisers are leaning towards one political party," Mr Shah said.
The quota agitation has received support from a chunk of youth from the politically powerful Patidar community, who have traditionally been BJP supporters. But 24-year-old Hardik Patel, who is spearheading the community's agitation for reservation in jobs and education since 2015, has made it clear that the BJP's lack of support to their demands will cost it during the elections.
Mr Patel, who has been accused of sedition, was being wooed by several opposition parties, including the Congress, Sharad Pawar's NCP and Arvind Kejriwal's AAP, which will contest in the Gujarat elections for the first time. Congress sources also say the party's state unit chief, Bharatsinh Solanki, had held several meetings with the close aides of Mr Patel. The young leader of the agitation has denied that he has any links with the Congress, but he has not ruled out joining active politics. The Patidars form 18 per cent of the state's population.
Mr Shah said under a Supreme Court ruling, reservation cannot exceed 50 per cent. Reservation for Schedules castes and tribes was constitutionally binding and no state government could change
It. But for a caste to find a place under the Other Backward castes category, it had to go through a procedure of submitting an application to the OBC Commission, he said.