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A meeting held here today between the Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) and a group of Gujarat ministers to resolve the vexed issue of reservation remained inconclusive. However, PAAS and the government have agreed to meet again to find out a solution to the sensitive issue. "We have had no results from the meeting," said Varun Patel, one of the 11 representatives of PAAS, told mediapersons after the six-hour long meet. In its bid to reach out to the politically and numerically strong community ahead of next year's Assembly polls, the government had last week extended an invitation for talks to PAAS. "In today's meeting, they just listened to our four demands in detail and then told us that they are not empowered to say yes or no on the spot. They will take forward our demand to chief minister (Vijay Rupani) and the party high-command in Delhi and then call us again to discuss with concrete proposal," Patel said. However, government has maintained that taking a call on the demand raised by Patels is not a small issue which can be resolved in a single meeting. "This is not a small issue which can be resolved in one meeting. We sat with the PAAS representatives for over six hours and discussed in details various issues raised by them," Deputy-Chief Minister Nitin Patel, who led the group of three ministers for talks, told reporters. "We also explained to them (PAAS representatives) that any decision on the issue of reservation can be taken only in context of Constitution and the Supreme Court judgement capping all reservations at 49 per cent. "We have told them that such agitations for reservations are going on in Rajasthan, Harayana and other states and everywhere there is a problem," the minister said. He said the ministerial group will take up the demands of Patidars with state cabinet as well as Central government. "After listening to their demands, we have told them that as our committee is appointed for negotiations, we will take their demands to our Central leadership and our Gujarat cabinet.
We will discuss all the issues and get back to them for the second meeting, for which they have agreed," he said.
However, PAAS members said they will intensify their stir if they feel that government is delaying the decision only to buy time.
"We want to warn government that if this happens to be some kind of tactic to buy time, we will wait till Monday for some concrete proposals from the government and if they are not satisfactory then we will intensify this agitation under the leadership of Hardik Patel," Patel said. He alleged that the ministers had attended the meeting sans any homework and that the government representatives had no decision-making power. In a message sent from Udaipur, where he is living in exile as part of the conditional bail granted to him by the Gujarat High Court earlier, Hardik said the Gujarat government cannot make any decision on reservation independently but have to rely on Centre. "It seems all decisions are being taken from Delhi. When our representatives went to meet the government, they told us that they will inform us on Monday after discussing with the party high command and chief minister. We will wait till Monday and after that we will intensify our agitation," he said. Meanwhile, the deputy CM added that government has advised PAAS to make a proper representation before the OBC commission if they want Patidar community's inclusion in OBC category. Last year, the violent agitations by Patidars seeking reservation in government jobs and education had rattled the government, then led by Anandiben Patel. Following the violence, Hardik was booked in two separate cases for sedition. The government had later introduced quota for economically weaker sections among the non-reserved category to pacify the Patel community. However, Gujarat HC quashed the government's move, terming it unconstitutional. The four main demands of the Patel community are: constitutionally valid reservation, creation of Patidar Development Board for the development of the community, justice and proper compensation to family members of those who died during the quota agitation and punishment to government officials responsible for committing 'atrocities' on the community when the agitation turned violent.