Ahmedabad, Oct 1: Amid the Patel community quota stir, the Congress on Thursday demanded an additional 15 to 20 per cent reservation for Economically Backward Category (EBC) among the upper caste, over and above the Supreme Court cap of 50 per cent to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled tribes and OBCs.
This is for the first time that the Congress has made its stand clear on the ongoing Patel quota agitation. "On the reservation issue, there should be no dilution of present quota system of 49 per cent for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled tribes and OBCs.
Over and above that we demand that the Narendra Modi government should give additional 15 to 20 per cent reservation for EBC of upper caste," AICC General Secretary and Gujarat in-charge Gurudas Kamat told reporters.
"Today, we have put forward that EBC reservation demand before the BJP government and if they fail to fulfil it, we will carry out nationwide agitation," Kamat said, adding that the Congress supports the demand of Patels and other communities to give reservations to poor among upper caste.
"If the present BJP government at Centre will not give reservation for EBCs, the Congress will do it when it comes to power. The Congress has always worked for poor people," Kamat said.
To a question that how can the Centre give reservation above the Supreme Court cap of 50 per cent, Kamat said, "We also know that SC has put a cap, but it is the responsibility of the central government to convince the apex court."
"They should either do it by bringing in a law or they should convince the Supreme Court for it," Kamat said.
To a specific query on a particular demand of the Patels here that they want their entire community to be included in the OBC category and are not ready to accept reservation just for EBC among them, state Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki said, "there should be no change in the existing system of 50 per cent reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs."
The Patels, one of the biggest communities in the state, which have been an ardent supporters of the BJP, have in the last two months launched an aggressive agitation to include them in OBC category for reservation.
After their August 25 mega rally in the city, the agitation turned violent in which 10 people including one policeman lost their lives.
Following the demand by the Patel communities, other upper caste communities like Rajputs, Brahmins and Baniyas have also demanded that the poor among be extended the benefit of reservation.
The state BJP government headed by Chief Minister Anandiben Patel had announced a package of Rs 1,000 crore for EBC communities designed to give financial benefits to meritorious students for education. However, even after the announcement of the package the stir continues in the state.