Bharatiya Janata Party National President Amit Shah has said that the Congress’ formula to provide the Patidar community reservation in education and jobs was “constitutionally impossible”.

“I believe that it has become clear in the elections that the Congress’s promise is not possible on the issue of reservations,” Shah told The Indian Express. “It has become clear to most of them [Patidars].”

The Congress’ proposal to the Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti reportedly does not alter the existing 49% reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes in Gujarat.

The BJP leader said there was “no constitutional solution visible” to the demands raised by leaders such as Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani. “It is not my point that the issues raised in those agitations are not an issue,” Shah said. “Everybody will have to discuss to find a solution. This is likely to be a long process. It will take prolonged discussions.”

Shah said he was not worried about the huge numbers of people attending Hardik Patel’s rallies ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections. The politics of caste, he said, was in the distant past for the state. “Gujarat will not cast its votes on caste lines,” he asserted.
“Gujarat will vote along vikaswaad [based on development].”

In an interview to The Economic Times, Shah said he was confident the BJP would win between 150 and 165 seats in the elections, given how its vote share had increased in states that have gone to the polls since the general election victory in 2014.

A victory in Gujarat would have a positive impact on other Assembly elections, especially in Karnataka, Shah said, adding that the BJP was “organisationally quite strong”.