Ahmedabad: Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel on Sunday vowed to sit on an indefinite fast, beginning 25 August, to demand reservation for the community members in government jobs and in education. In a media statement, the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader said that he would fast to death if his demands were not met by the government. “Till my community does not get the benefits of reservation, I will continue my fast. Even if I lose my life, so be it. But the government will now have to decide its stand on reservation."

In a video posted on a social networking site, Patel said that this was his last fight. “The time has come for the fight to take it to its last stage. It’s time to be either on this side or that. Besides quota reservation, my fight is also for farmers and unemployment."

Interacting with his supporters on social media, Patel said that 25 August was observed as Patidar Kranti Divas, and he was confident that the community would get quota benefits. Patel asked that when the Patidars in Madhya Pradesh were getting reservation benefits, why weren’t they getting the same in Gujarat.

In mid-2015, Patel had launched PAAS, which quickly moved to the forefront of an agitation by Gujarat’s Patel community. On 25 August, three years ago, Patel had addressed a huge gathering in Ahmedabad, which was attended by about half a million people. The rally turned violent leading to a crackdown by the police and detention of Patidar leaders. The subsequent violence across Gujarat claimed 14 lives.

The 24-year-old youth leader who is facing charges of sedition has led a number of protests against the state government in the last three years. In 2017 Gujarat elections, he also lent support to Congress in his fight against the ruling BJP government in the state.

In order to address the Patidars’ demand, the BJP government had declared 10% reservation for economically backward classes among the higher castes through an ordinance in May 2016. This was in addition to a 49.5% reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and OBCs. The ordinance, which the PAAS termed as a “lollipop", was challenged in Gujarat high court which struck it down in August 2016, calling it unconstitutional and illegal. The state government then approached the Supreme Court. In October 2016, the Gujarat government allowed the ordinance to lapse after it failed to make it a law.

Patel, who has planned several rallies and public meetings in poll bound Madhya Pradesh, is looking to project himself as a leaders of farmers and youth rather than just being a man who fights for quota. This has however upset some of his supporters who feel that he is diverting from the main issue. Patel in his video message today has appealed called his supporters to come together and give up all infightings.

Patel along with Congress MLA Alpesh Thakor and independent MLA Jignesh Mevani were on Saturday booked by police on trespass and other charges after they allegedly led raid to a premise that was an illegal liquor den.

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