Home >Politics >Policy >Hardik’s indefinite fast turning out to be rallying point for anti-BJP forces

Ahmedabad: Support from various political parties poured in as Patidar quota warrior Hardik Patel’s indefinite fast entered eleventh day. Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to form a committee to look into quota reservation demands. Several Gujarat Congress MLAs and senior party leaders have already extended support to Patel in the last few days.

Patel’s indefinite fast for reservation is turning out to be a rallying point for anti-BJP forces ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The Congress has asked the ruling BJP state government to end the deadlock by opening talks with Patel.

Former Union minister Yashwant Sinha and BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha today visited Patel at his residence.

Sinha said that he will take Patel’s agitation nationally.

Patel, who heads the pro-reservation Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), launched an indefinite fast beginning 25 August, the third anniversary of his address to a huge gathering in Ahmedabad, an event marred by violence.

While the 2015 event put Patel in the spotlight, this one seems aimed at remaining relevant ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Patel turned 25 on 20 July, meeting the minimum age criteria to fight a Lok Sabha or state assembly election. There has been a buzz that Patel might contest the Lok Sabha elections as an independent or on a Congress ticket, however, the Patidar leader is yet to make his stand clear.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Congress MP Ahmed Patel said he was worried about Patel’s deteriorating health.

“The fight for justice you are undertaking is commendable. Your energy is needed for nation building. Please take care of your health," Patel said in his tweet.

In a statement, energy minister Saurabh Patel today said the Congress leaders who went to meet Hardik at his residence are those who are “anti-BJP and opponents of Prime Minister Modi".

“The Congress needs to make its stand clear about quota reservation especially when the Supreme Court and various high courts have already made it clear that it cannot go beyond 50%," the minister said in his statement.

He urged the quota-agitation leader to allow a medical team to conduct his health check-up.

“We are worried about his health. The government wants him to cooperate with doctors," Patel said, adding that a fully-equipped ambulance and a team of doctors have been deployed at his residence.

The quota spearhead has reportedly lost nearly 20kgs of weight since he began his indefinite fast.

“Anti-BJP forces are definitely seeing an opportunity of shaping the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ at Hardik’s hunger strike. They will certainly attempt to do something like the Anna Hazare movement wherein they can challenge the ruling government. Issues like reservations for Patels might disappear as all political leaders or parties will look pushing some common agendas. It is too early to say whether these anti-BJP forces will find any major success or not," said Vidyut Joshi, a political analyst and former vice-chancellor of Bhavnagar University.

Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Karthik and Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Bharat Bhushan Mandal met Hardik last week and extended support to his demands. Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal has also come out in support of Patel for his farm loan waiver demand.

Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav on Monday appealed to the 25-year-old Patidar leader to end his fast. Tuesday was the eleventh day of his indefinite fast at his sprawling house on the outskirts of Ahmedabad.

The PAAS leader had earlier this week released his “will" in which he divided his property among his family members, 14 youths killed during the quota agitation in 2015 and a ‘Panjrapole’ (cow shelter).

The BJP has called the protest as ‘Congress-sponsored’.

In order to defuse the Patidar agitation, the Gujarat government had earlier this month announced eight schemes to provide financial assistance for jobs and education to economically backward classes. The government had also 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 move was, however, turned down by a court.

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