Three reasons why Patels should not trust Hardik

Kumar Shakti Shekhar
Kumar Shakti ShekharAug 27, 2015 | 20:53

Three reasons why Patels should not trust Hardik

Gujarat is on the boil in the wake of the agitation on reservation launched by Patel Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), led by the 22-year-old Hardik Patel which has resulted in nine deaths, including that of a policeman, loot, arson and clashes across the state since August 25. This has forced Prime Minister Narendra Modi to appeal to the people of his home state to maintain peace. While Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel can be blamed for underestimating the agitation and doing little to ensure that the agitation did not get out of control, Hardik is to be squarely held responsible for creating a law and order problem by misleading his fellow Patels. There are several discrepancies and contradictions in his stand which should lead even Patels to not trust him and these are the reasons why:


1. Not serious towards demand

Speaking at a Patel rally in Vadodara on August 22, Hardik said: "Either the government grant us reservation or discontinue the entire concept of reservation. There is no other option." Had he been serious towards his demand, he would not have said "either" and "or". It would have been "must". Moreover, both his options are not plausible. It is not possible for the government to grant more than 50 per cent quota as the Supreme Court will strike it down. And it is also not possible for the government, politically, to replace any caste with Patels because those sections will then be up in arms. Anandiben has already expressed the government's inability to make any change in the guidelines fixed by the apex court. She said on August 23, "We don't want to change reservation guidelines set by Supreme Court for SCs, STs and OBCs and more than 50 per cent reservation cannot be given as per the Supreme court guidelines."

The only way out for the central government from this mess would be to do away with reservation and that can happen only with a Constitutional amendment. But even that is impractical because any attempt at doing away with reservation would create a nationwide stir, which can also turn violent. Besides, the Centre will have to build consensus among the major political parties - within the NDA as well as the Opposition - as it does not enjoy a majority in the Rajya Sabha. Hence, Hardik has promised the moon to his constituents, most probably to further his personal political ambition, but which practically cannot be fulfilled.


2. Patels' status

Hardik has made tall claims about the Patel community. He said their population in the country was 27 crore. He also said they have political clout not only in Gujarat but throughout the country and claimed Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu were also Patels. He boasted that there were six Patel MPs in Gujarat and 117 throughout the country. He went on to brag about the economic and political preponderance of the Patels in the US and said their caste's seal will be there on dollars. "In 1985, we uprooted the Congress from Gujarat, today there is BJP. 2017 is coming… lotus will not bloom in the mud… if you will not talk about our interest, the lotus will not bloom with brilliance," he said.

His stand is full of inherent contradictions - on one hand he lists the social, political and economic dominance of the Patels and, on the other, he demands reservation in jobs and educational institutions. By his logic, even upper castes are in the same situation as the Patels - for instance, Rajputs or Thakurs may be economically, socially and politically dominant, but are not represented in government jobs and educational institutions in the same proportion. If the young Gujarati Patel is really serious about a higher number of his community members getting into government jobs and educational institutions, he should launch programmes for their awakening and emancipation (like opening of coaching institutes) instead of taking the short-cut agitational route. This would earn him long-term respect not only among his own people, but also from the society as a whole.


3. Close to Togadia but against BJP

In a stand which is highly contradictory, Hardik, on one hand, accuses the BJP of, what he called, spreading hatred among Hindus and Muslims and said the party did not want communal harmony. But, on the other hand, he holds a polarising figure like Vishwa Hindu Parishad's Pravin Togadia in high esteem and even assured him that his Sardar Patel Sewadal Gujarat (SPG) would live up to his expectation of working for the cause of the Hindus in his hometown Viramgam. He posted his picture, brandishing a pistol, with Togadia on Facebook on May 11. He is clearly trying to play to the galleries and confuse the Patels by praising Togadia and cursing the BJP for spreading venom in the society.

Screenshot from Hardik Patel's Facebook page.

The earlier the Patels see the contradictions in Hardik's stands, the better it is for them, or else the agitation launched by him is fraught with causing large-scale destruction and despair.

Last updated: September 19, 2015 | 12:01
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