What is the story of this 22-year old guy who is spearheading the Patel community’s demand for reservation in the state of Gujarat?
Hardik Patel has become a national sensation in a span of just two months. A nameless-faceless guy, how did he suddenly become so influential that thousands flocked to the streets to support him? What is his mission and what are his demands, which political party or God Father is backing him are some of the few questions which are raging in the minds of millions across the nations. Read on to find out the real story of this 21-year-old ‘New Modi’.
Who Are The Patel’s?
The Patel’s and the Patidars comprise one-fourth of the entire population of Gujarat and since the 1980s the community have remained a loyal vote bank for the BJP. The community has produced some affluent businessmen such as Karsanbhai Patel, the founder of Nirma group and diamond moguls Govind Dholakia and Lalji Patel. But the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, which is demanding that the Patel community should be granted reservation quota under the OBC category, claims that only 15% of the Patel’s belong to the affluent class. In the recent years the agricultural populace has faced severe losses because of crop failure and the diamond industry has seen some major layoffs rendering many diamond polishers jobless. These factors have contributed in making government jobs a lucrative option for the youth in the state. But the reservation granted to the OBC’s has stifled the opportunities for the Patidar youths in Government offices or in engineering or medical entrance examinations. Another issue which has caused resentment among the males in the community is the increased difficulty in finding a suitable girl, as the bride’s family prefers a groom from the business community or someone who is placed in the government sector. The increasing number of suicides among the farmers and diamond industry workers is at the root of the agitation which has spread across the entire state.
Hardik Patel: The New Modi
Hardik Patel is the 22-year-old who is spearheading the Patel community’s quest for reservation in Gujarat is a commerce graduate from the Chandrapur village of central Gujarat. Hardik was always a political aficionado. Hailing from a middle-class background the de-facto leader was involved in his father’s business before joining hands with the Sardar Patel Sevadal. He used social networking website such as Facebook to create awareness among the youth of his community regarding the problems which were the cause of their diminishing socio-economic condition. In less than two years, his Facebook page, Sardar Patel Group, garnered followers as high as 30,000. In July 2015, Hardik decided it was time to take matters into own hands instead of waiting any further. Thus came into being the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti. The Sardar Patel Sevadal was initially opposed to the idea of PAAS and even banished Hardik from the organization. Undeterred from his path, the youth leader organized a rally from the Mehsana district which was attended by many. Ever since the first agitation, he has successfully organized numerous rallies and motivated the masses in the urban as well rural parts of the Gujarat.
On 25th August, the PAAS had called for the Maha Kranti rally in Ahmedabad and as many as 60,000 people had resorted to the streets in support of Hardik Patel. When the followers resorted to force to enforce the state wide bandh, the members of the opposing Dalit community resisted and various incidents of stone-pelting and clashes among both the groups were reported. The armed police used tear gas to disperse the mob and even arrested the PAAS leader Hardik Patel. In a violent turn of events following his arrest, the mob torched several city buses and curfew had to be imposed; paramilitary troops have been deployed in several parts to restore law and order. As many as ten people have been reported dead in the riots. While Hardik was released from custody later, he has said that nothing would stop him and his community members from achieving what is rightfully theirs. In his speech on 25/08/2015, he addressed the ruling party saying that “If this government does not heed our demands, the lotus will not bloom in 2017.” He has even indicated to go on a hunger strike if the Government does not heed to their demands.
Which Party Does Hardik Patel Belong?
In a short span of time he has emerged as a popular and influential figure and people across the state have followed him intently. The group has put social media to full use for spreading their message across the length and breadth of the region. His co-workers and followers compare him to the Iron Man of India Sardar Patel. Even dubbed as the ‘New Modi’ and ‘Patidar Hriday Samrat’ he has even acquired the support of several smaller parties and the mass uprising has rocked the foundations of established parties. While Hardik has constantly maintained that he is not affiliated to any political parties, the BJP and the Congress are involved in the blame game. Amid speculations that the Congress Party is backing the movement news of Hardik’s friendly relations with Tejshree Patel, the Congress MLA has been doing rounds. On the other hand the Congress is raising a hue and cry over the protests saying the movement is a brain child of the BJP aimed at securing their vote bank prior to the municipal elections in the state. The rumors are gaining momentum as the Crusader of the Patel community is seen in photographs with BJP stalwarts Purshottam Rupala and Rajnikant Patel and the VHP President Pravin Togadia.
The Course Of Action Adopted By The Government
Realizing the gravity of the situation Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel has called for a meeting with the community leaders and has established a seven-member committee to evaluate the demands put forth by the protestors.
On questioned on their future course of action, Hardik replied that the very moment Government agrees to their demand, the protests and rallies will cede.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an address has asked the residents of the state to maintain peace and avoid any other untoward incidents.