Gujarat Congress to bring bill for quota on economic criterion

Ahmedabad, Feb 20 (IANS) The Congress’ Gujarat unit on Saturday said it would move a bill in the upcoming assembly session for reservation based on economic criterion and not caste, even as it announced for the first time its support to the Patel community youngsters leading a pro-quota agitation in the state.

In a late evening communique, the Congress said it proposes a 20 percent reservation in government jobs and educational institutions to those hailing from economically weaker sections irrespective of their castes.

Senior Congress leader Siddharth Patel clarified in the press release that the proposed 20 percent quota would be over and above the present 49 per cent allocation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes.

He said the Congress had already made a policy announcement to this effect and that party president Sonia Gandhi had also stated in January 2014 that people hailing from economically weaker sections of society should get quota benefits.

The Congress leader said the party supports the pro-reservation agitation by young Patel leader Hardik Patel but it favours quota for economically weaker sections who lose out on the opportunity to grow with the others.

Contacted, Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi told IANS that “our party does not wish to disturb the 49 percent people getting reservation benefits on caste basis since they already face a double whammy of being economically weak”.

To the point that a bill by the Congress would be defeated in the assembly since it did not have the numbers, Doshi said: “We would move the bill and thus make a firm statement of what we believe in on the floor of the assembly.”

“It is up to the ruling BJP to support it. If it does not, it will stand exposed before the people as well as those who are spearheading the agitation for reservations. With this, the Congress party has come clean with its position,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Congress has demanded that the state government should drop the sedition charges against Hardik Patel and “stop its repressive measures”. Siddharth Patel added that his party also wants the sedition charges against students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University to be withdrawn.

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