The Centre's decision of 10 per cent EWS reservation without disturbing the existing quota resolved many issues of the Patels in Gujarat and the community will ensure the BJP's massive victory in the upcoming assembly polls, party leader Hardik Patel said.
The spearhead of the 2015 Patidar quota stir said the agitation had directly impacted nearly 20 assembly segments in the 2017 Gujarat election. He had supported the Congress during the 2017 polls.
The Centre in January 2019 implemented the 10 per cent reservation for the economically weaker sections (EWS) from the general category by amending the Constitution. It also issued instructions for increasing the total number of seats in academic institutions to provide EWS reservations without adversely affecting the proportionate seats of the Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) categories.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court in a 3:2 majority decision upheld the 10 per cent reservation for economically weaker sections (EWS) in admissions and government jobs that excluded the poor among the SCs, STs, and OBCs.
"Patidars are united and have decided to back Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In the 2017 elections, the issue was different. The 10 per cent EWS quota has extended reservation benefits for the poor and the deprived from other sections while including the Patels of Gujarat.
"This time, the Patels will ensure that BJP gets a massive majority," Patel told PTI in an interview. He hailed Prime Minister Modi's leadership, and termed his decision on the EWS quota "historic". It will benefit the poor from more than 50 communities, he said.
"It (EWS reservation) will immensely benefit the BJP. Last time, the Patidar agitation impacted nearly 20 seats directly and had an indirect effect on many other seats. But now, not only Patels but many communities will get reservation benefits," Patel said.
About the impact of AAP's foray into Gujarat assembly polls, Patel did not see the Arvind Kejriwal-led party posing many challenges to the BJP. For him, the Congress is the nearest rival though a distant second in the polls.
"The AAP is free to contest elections. But it has hurt the religious sentiments of the people of Gujarat with its leader's remarks against Lord Vishnu and Mahesh. "It is fighting the Congress for the same space but as of now it appears the Congress will be a distant second in the elections," he said.
On his leaving the Congress to join the BJP, Patel said his issues have been resolved and he was always "BJP-minded and ideologically closer to Hindutva and nationalism". The 29-year-old Hardik Patel rose to prominence as the face of the Patidar agitation in Gujarat between 2015 and 2016. He joined the Congress in 2020 and served as its Gujarat unit working president.
Earlier this year, he crossed over to the BJP which fielded him from the Viramgam constituency in Ahmedabad. Party leaders have been calling him a "fighter leader". When asked about chief ministers changing in Gujarat, Hardik said BJP is the party of the entire Gujarati society and "it gives representation to every caste at the appropriate time".
"The people of Gujarat have full faith in the BJP. They embrace all its decisions and look at Prime Minister Modi and Amit Shah while voting for the party," he said.
(With PTI Inputs)