NEW DELHI: The much-awaited Rahul-Hardik meeting seems unlikely soon with the Congress vice president set to visit Gujarat on a three-day trip starting Saturday.
The reason, said the sources, is that the vexed issue of quotas for the Patel community has not been sorted out.
The AICC rushed veteran Kapil Sibal to Ahmedabad on Wednesday where he held a late night session with the PAAS, Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti leaders and gave them three options.
These leaders now have to discuss the options with Hardik Patel and get back to the Congress. If needed a meeting between senior Congress leaders and the PAAS representatives could be held in Delhi on Friday, a day before Rahul begins phase four of his campaign in north Gujarat.
If an agreement is reached between the two groups, a meeting between Rahul and Hardik, whom the grand old party has been trying to win over ahead of the crucial December elections, could be arranged, said the sources.
Congress insiders said the biggest concern for them is to genuinely address the grievances of the Patels, who are asking for reservation in jobs and education, while ensuring the proposals are constitutionally sound.
Though a section of the Congress has been suggesting 20 percent reservation to Patels based on economic backwardness and not OBC status, another group has highlighted that the Gujarat high court had rejected a state government’s offer of 10 percent economic criteria based quota for the community.
Knowing that SC, ST and OBC quota touch 49 percent in Gujarat and can’t go beyond, the PAAS leaders rejected the economic criteria during the meeting but found Sibal’s proposals worth discussing, the sources said.
Congress sources said they have accepted other demands made by the PAAS leaders like quashing FIRs registered against them by the state government and compensating the family members of those who died during the quota protests over the past few years.
Congress insiders said though they are keen to get the support of PAAS, which has a significant following, it does not want to lose face on the quota issue.