We have to first defeat the BJP: Hardik

In an interview with Mahesh Langa, Patidar agitation leader Hardik Patel says “defeating the BJP in the Assembly polls” is as important for him as fighting for quota

Updated - February 03, 2017 01:57 am IST

Published - February 02, 2017 11:30 pm IST

Hardik Patel

Hardik Patel

You are visiting villages in North Gujarat from where you had launched your quota agitation in 2015. How is the response now?

The response is tremendous. Even at midnight, hundreds of people gather for our meetings in even tiny villages. People are very enthusiastic and are aware also about the cause, that is to get reservation for our youth in education and government jobs. It is a primary goal and we will achieve it despite the Gujarat government's opposition to it. In all other States, Patidar-like communities enjoy OBC status and quota but only in Gujarat, the government opposes it. For the first time after independence, Patidars have asked for something from the government but the BJP has rejected our demand.

What do you talk about when you meet people in villages?

As I said, there is a strong feeling in the community that we should get quota because the times have changed and we need it now. Secondly, people talk about injustice done by the BJP government, which tried to suppress our agitation with force. A dozen people were killed in police firing, we were sent to jail on sedition charges. Police thrashed our women in our own homes. In every village, people ask me to fight for justice for those who were killed and atrocities the police inflicted on us. Nobody has forgotten anything. They all remember what happened to us in 2015. The way police treated us is something the Patidar community will never forget.

Who do you think tried to suppress your agitation?

Amit Shah. It was he who ordered the police to use force on us after the rally in Ahmedabad GMDC ground was over.

How can you blame Amit Shah when Anandiben Patel was the Chief Minister at that time?

Yes, I know Anandiben was the CM then but she was a rubber stamp of Modi like Vijay Rupani is the pawn of Amit Shah now. No one has any power in the Gujarat government except Modi and Shah. They run the State from Delhi. It’s a fact and open secret. And all Patel leaders in the BJP know this but they are not able to speak up. Look at what happened to deputy CM Nitin Patel recently in a village in his own constituency? People did not allow him to talk. Similarly, youth BJP president was booed in Surat on Tuesday. Patidars threw eggs and tomatoes on him. I challenge any Patel BJP leader in Gujarat to hold a rally of 10,000 people in a Patidar-dominated area in the State.

Are you saying that Patidars are drifting from the BJP?

They already have. Did you not see how Amit Shah was forced to end his speech in a few minutes in Surat. Let BJP organise another rally or sabha of Shah in any Patel-dominated area in the State and see what happens there. We have identified that he is a General Dyer, who used the police against the Patidars because he wanted to finish Anandiben Patel. It was the BJP’s internal fight and we were made to pay a price for it.

Coming back to the quota issue, tell us why you need reservation?

We need quota because the times have changed. I told you, there are no jobs in the State and agriculture is distressed because the entire sector has been neglected in the last two decades. Farmers have not got anything in this so-called development model and there are no jobs for youth.

Is your agitation going political now?

Every agitation or movement culminates in the political stream and there is nothing wrong in it. I will say with all sincerity that we are fighting for quota or reservation and at the same time, we are fighting for justice against the excesses and atrocities committed on us when the government tried to suppress our agitation. Our primary goal is to get quota for the community and to achieve that, we have to first defeat the BJP in the State because it’s the BJP, which has denied us benefits under the quota. What happened in the panchayat polls in 2015 when the BJP was wiped out, will be repeated in the Assembly polls whenever they are held.

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