Ahmedabad: Quota agitation spearhead Hardik Patel on Wednesday ended his ‘indefinite’ hunger strike after 19 days, despite the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled state government refusing to entertain any of his demands.
The 25-year-old Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convener had called for an indefinite fast on 25 August to demand reservation for the Patidar community in Gujarat and for farm loan waiver. Patel said he decided to end his protest after senior leaders of his community urged him to break his fast-unto-death.
In a message on social media, the Patidar leader said that his fight for his community and for farmers will continue. Patel said that he will not play into the hands of his rivals who wanted to see him dead.
Patel had also demanded the release of PAAS member Alpesh Kathiriya, who has been arrested on sedition charges.
Patel was admitted to a hospital on Friday after his health deteriorated. After spending two days in the hospital, he returned to his house and continued his protest.
Reacting to the quota leader’s decision to end his fast, deputy chief minister Nitin Patel said that though late, it was the right decision. The government welcomed Hardik’s decision, Patel said in Gandhinagar on Wednesday, adding that it was committed to the welfare of every community, including Patidars.
A Congress delegation had earlier called on chief minister Vijay Rupani and submitted a memorandum urging him to end the deadlock by initiating talks with the PAAS.
Last week, minister Saurabh Patel said Hardik’s agitation and his fast were politically motivated and sponsored by the Congress. He said that the doors of the government were open for talks, but so far no negotiations have been held.
The PAAS leader’s indefinite fast has garnered support from various opposition political parties, including the Aam Aadmi Party, the Trinamool Congress, the Samajwadi Party, Shiv Sena and the Rashtriya Janata Dal.