New Delhi 27 Aug 2015

The Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) while condoling the loss of precious lives of more than half a dozen people in the Gujarat violence spearheaded by Patels demanding OBC (Other Backward Classes) status, said the agitation is rather preposterous. The name Patel itself means someone who owns land. They are a pretty influential community and there is no locus standi for demanding reservation. If any community needs reservation at present, it is Muslim, due to its backwardness in all spheres of life, the party said.

SDPI national president A. Sayeed in a statement said that the agitation launched by Patels led by a 22-year-old youth named Hardik Patel is totally uncalled for. It is difficult to justify reservations for Patels as they do not have the disempowered status of most of the communities in the Mandal Commission list. The Patel community in Gujarat state is powerful — economically and politically. One-third of the ruling BJP’s 121 MLAs in the state are Patels and there are many Patels also in the Opposition. The majority of ministers in the Gujarat cabinet, the head of the BJP in the state and the chief minister herself are Patels.

Sayeed wondered as to who is playing caste politics even after 69 years of independence, where around 60-70% population is covered under 50 % reservation and the remaining 50% is for 14.2% Muslims, 2.3% Christians and other upper caste population. It seems to be a caste card being played by upper class people to dislodge Patels from general quota to OBC quota for their own gain.

Sayeed said in reality Patels are only 12-15 per cent of the state’s population but they possess about 50 per cent of wealth. However, it seems that is not enough so they are rioting for OBC quota. If Modi govt gives reservation fearing vote bank then will this act not be called as appeasement vote bank politics. If they do then BJP will have no moral right to complain other parties’ plank.

Within any large community in a developing country like India, there will always be many who are not very well off, but, by any objective appraisal, Patels / Marathas / Jats are dominant landowning peasant castes, strongly represented in public life. It will be a travesty if they are accorded reservation. Had it not been for the apex court wisely mandating a 50 per cent ceiling, electoral compulsions would have taken the figure close to 100 per cent.

The statement questioned as how can a community that owns a quarter of motels in USA, a large number of businesses around the country and the world be considered backward? There are other communities including Muslims that deserve reservations. All political parties must not be silent spectators for fear of vote bank politics but raise their voices calling spade a spade.

He said that it is BJP which has created the caste war in the nation playing religious cards during the last Lok Sabha election to topple the Congress government. Now it is being run by remote control by their religious heads namely RSS functionaries. India needs to remove all caste, religious and language barriers to be truly democratic and become super power in the next few decades, he stressed.