Ahmedabad, Nov 29: The Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), which led last year’s Patel quota agitation, will send a team to discuss its demand with state ministers at a meeting in Gandhinagar on Thursday, five days after the Gujarat government reached out to the organisation for talks. Hardik, who is currently staying outside Gujarat, today held a meeting with PAAS members in Udaipur, where they decided to send an 11-member team to hold talks with the government. “We have formed a team of 11 people to negotiate with the state government our demand to include the Patel community in the OBC list for reservation,” Hardik said in a text message.
PAAS leader and Hardik’s aide Dinesh Bambhania said, “The meeting between representatives of Hardik and a team of BJP ministers will be held on Thursday at Gandhinagar circuit house.” In view of the Gujarat Assembly polls due in December 2017, the Vijay Rupani-led BJP government in the state seems to have started reaching out to the influential and dominant Patel community, whose violent protests led by Hardik, seeking reservation in jobs and education had shaken the government then led by Anandiben Patel. Last week, the government had offered to hold talks with the PAAS which is led by Hardik, who is slated to return to the state in January. The government had given the invite saying they were doing it for peace.
“For peace and unity of the state, so that every member of the state could participate in its journey of development, support of all communities is required. With this aim, the government invites Patidar leaders for talks,” Deputy Chief Minister of Gujarat Nitin Patel had said. PAAS had recently announced that it would relaunch the agitation from next month. The Patel quota agitation had turned violent in August last year, after which the state government had slapped sedition charges on Hardik. Two separate sedition cases were filed against him. The high court had granted him bail in July.
The state government had later introduced quota for economically weaker sections among the non-reserved category to pacify the Patel community. However, Gujarat high court had quashed the government move terming it as unconstitutional. Numerically strong Patel community has been a staunch supporter of BJP in the state till Hardik Patel started the agitation for reservation. Elections are scheduled to be held in the state in the later part of 2017. Once Hardik had met the then Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel for negotiation on their quota demand, however, the meeting did not bring any result.