Ahmedabad: Gujarat today announced a new 10 per cent quota in government jobs and colleges for the poorest among the upper castes. The move is expected to benefit the powerful Patel or Patidar community in the state, which has aggressively campaigned for reservation, led by their jailed leader Hardik Patel. But they say it weakens their cause.
- 10% quota in government jobs, colleges for income less than 6 lakhs
- New quota to add to the already existing 49.5% reservation for minorities
- Patidar community, led by Hardik Patel, demanded quota in jobs, colleges
From May, those who earn less than Rs 6 lakh a year will get quota if they are in the unreserved or general category, Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel said on Friday.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the Gujarat BJP's core group, which was attended by party chief Amit Shah.
Quotas in Gujarat now add up to nearly 60 per cent, which exceeds the Supreme Court's limit of 50 per cent. So far, scheduled castes and tribes and OBCs or Other Backward Castes enjoyed 49.5 per cent reservation in the state.
The ruling BJP, say sources, sees the move as a political expedient even though it may not stand legal scrutiny. The party has been under pressure over the Patidar agitation and its recent losses in civic polls in the state that is due for elections next year.
The Patidar community has rubbished the move. "It's a lollypop. It won't stand in court of law and is an attempt to weaken our agitation," said Nikhil Savani, convenor of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti.
22-year-old Hardik Patel, who has been in jail since his arrest in October, has led the Patidar community protests for reservation that have often led to violent clashes in the past year.
Next week, he will have spent 200 days in jail.
Last year, a similar quota for the economically backward was introduced in another BJP-ruled state, Rajasthan.