BJP MP backs Patel stir, wants quota like Jats

Ahmedabad: In a shot in the arm to Patels seeking reservation in government jobs and educational institutions in Gujarat, BJP MP from Porbander Vitthal Radadiya on Monday came out in their support.

“If Jats in Haryana can get reservations, I believe that Patels who have been fighting for reservations for a long time should also be granted quotas.

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“The quantum of reservation and other modalities can be thrashed out through talks between the government and Patel leaders,” said Radadiya, who is the first BJP leader to support the agitating Patels.

Radadiya is considered a heavyweight Patel leader from the Saurashtra region with strong base amongst farmers and cooperative sector. He was believed to have been asked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help defuse the violence witnessed last year during the Patel quota stir.

A legislator from the Congress for long, he switched sides to the Bharatiya Janata Party in March 2013 after being denied the post of leader of opposition in the assembly, before being elected as MP on a BJP ticket in the 2014 parliamentary polls.

Welcoming Radadiya’s statement, Atul Patel, spokesperson of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), said the MP’s support was a positive development.

“We are already talking to the state government over the issue and any support is welcome,” Patel said. “Looking at our population, we feel that Patels should get at least 15 per reservation but we are open to talks,” he added.

Patel, along with few other PAAS supporters, announced an indefinite fast from Monday in support of release of the agitation’s leaders, who are behind bars.