Ahmedabad: The Gujarat Congress on Thursday said it would contest the local body elections next month with a promise of quota for economically weaker sections among the forward castes.
The Congress state unit had remained silent through the nearly four-month-old agitation by the Patel community youngsters for reservation in jobs and educational institutions under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category.
The Congress would provide reservation to the poor sections from castes such as Patels, Brahmins, Baniyas and others not covered under the quota benefits without tampering with the present 49 percent earmarked for Scheduled Castes (Dalits), Scheduled Tribes (Adivasis) and OBCs, state Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki said while addressing partymen here on Thursday evening.
Sensing the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's discomfiture with the ongoing agitation by Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti because of which the Anandiben Patel government wanted to put off elections to 323 local bodies, Solanki said the Congress would emerge as a voice of the middle class "disillusioned with the BJP misrule".
"The ruling party has done grave injustice to the middle class who pay them Rs.1.33 lakh crore as taxes," Solanki said.
"Patidars and all other communities felt cheated by the BJP, which collected a whopping Rs.500 crore as donations from the middle class," the state Congress chief said.
He claimed a number of Patidar leaders and volunteers were deserting the BJP to embrace the Congress and his party would ensure justice to them.
Solanki said the BJP goverment had broken the backbone of Gujarat’s economic engine, which were traditional small and medium-scale industries manufacturing ceramics, oil engines, brass parts and several other things, to favour a handful of large industrial houses.