Ahmedabad: The Patidar community, soon after the Congress party released its manifesto for the Gujarat assembly elections, expressed it dissatisfaction with the lack of clarity in the document on how the community will be given reservation in government jobs and educational institutions.

The opposition party reiterated its plan to provide reservation for the Patidar community under a “special category” in line with Articles 15(4), 16(4) and 46 of the Indian Constitution, without elaborating on the formula it had prepared after holding a series of meeting with Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leaders and its convenor Hardik Patel.

PAAS leader Dinesh Bambhaniya said the manifesto did not have the details the Congress had said it would share. “We will get more information and then decide (whether to support the Congress in the elections) based on that. In the manifesto, the Congress has said that without making any change in the current 49 percent reservation for backward communities, it will introduce a Bill in the assembly under Article 46 of the Constitution while keeping in view the provisions of Article 31(c) to meet the demands of the Patidar community,” he said.

The Congress on Monday said in its manifesto that, if it wins the elections and forms the state government, it will hold consultations with all stakeholders and appoint a commission to identify which communities will be included in the proposed “special category.” It has also announced the formation of a commission to examine how economically backward classes (EBCs) from the upper castes can be provided equal opportunities in education and economic advancement.

“We are disappointed as the Congress is giving us a bigger lollipop,” said R.P. Patel, coordinator for the Patidar Organisation Committee, a grouping of social and religious Patidar bodies. “Since we don’t want to a chance with either of the parties (the Congress or the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP), we have taken the opinion of Supreme Court lawyer Harish Salve, which we will be sharing with the media soon.”

The Patidar Organisation Committee coordinator said that, according to Salve’s opinion, whatever formula Congress leader Kapil Sibal has offered for Patidar reservation is unconstitutional. “Therefore, we condemn it and we will make this public to expose them,” he said, adding that his organization had also sought Salve’s views to the ruling BJP’s proposal on the matter.

Sibal, a former Union law minister, and other Congress leaders met Hardik Patel and other PAAS leaders last month. The opposition party is counting on the support of the Patidar community, which forms around 15 percent of Gujarat’s population, to displace the BJP, which has been in power for 22 years, in the state elections that will be held in two phases on 9 and 14 December.

Jaynarayan Vyas, a senior BJP leader and former health minister in the Gujarat government, referred to the Congress’s proposal as a “fairy tale.”

“The BJP always welcomes steps to remove poverty and deprivation, and this category needs to be attended to and we need to sympathetic to them,” he said. “Since the Congress knows it has doesn’t even have a remote chance of coming to power, they are telling these fairy tales. If they are so confident, why aren’t they implementing their proposed reservation model in the state they rule, like Karnataka and Punjab? Why are they waiting for it to be implemented in Gujarat first?”

Sociologist Gaurang Jani said the Congress proposing a special category and identifying communities to be included in it is something the BJP could have done any time in the two decades it has ruled Gujarat. “They (BJP) neglected the non-reserved categories and did take them seriously, and now the Congress is smartly using that in its favour,” he said.

“Why did the BJP not carry out the survey for all these years? They could have done it easily for the benefit of the public at large, but they took the people lightly,” Jani said.

The Congress manifesto covers 17 topics: farmers; youth, unemployment and sports; women; students; health; high prices; labourers; business and industries; residents and land; law and order and democratic values; social security; Scheduled Tribes; Scheduled Castes; minorities; Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Maldharis and nomadic and denotified tribes (NT/DNTs); EBCs and reservation; and rural development.

“Congress, if voted into power, will ensure justice for the Una, Thangadh and Naliya incidents. It will maintain law and order; bring cyber crime and human trafficking under control; provide childcare; introduce CCTV (closed-circuit television) surveillance and an anti-corruption law; strengthen the Right to Information legislation and Lokayukta (anti-corruption ombudsman); and set a minimum limit of 120 working days for the state assembly,” said Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki said at a press conference on Monday.

The ruling BJP has not issued a manifesto for the polls yet.

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Kuldeep Tiwari tweets at @kuldeep_2105.