"You Wear a 2 Lakh Suit And Call Yourself Gandhi": Hardik Patel Returns to Gujarat
NEW DELHI: “You wear a two lakh rupee suit and call yourself Gandhi...you can’t sit on the charkha and call yourself Gandhi.” If anyone had doubts about what Hardik Patel would do once the six month exile from Gujarat as over, the one time BJP crony dispelled all such speculation with his first remarks as he headed back to Ahmedabad.
Announcing “I am going to Gujarat” on his Facebook page through which he has communicated with the Pattidars in his home state, while on a court directed exile in Rajasthan for six months, Patel made it clear that one, he is going to ensure the BJP defeat in the state elections due this year. And two, he will not compromise on the demand for reservation that had led to violent protests in Gujarat under his leadership.
He returned in a long cavalcade of vehicles and crackers, and in a video said that he was going back to his home state, but would return to speak for the oppressed of Rajasthan again. A response on his FB page interesting states, “Hearty welcome.India has not become independent only for Modi Bhakts.It has become independent for dissident voices like Hardik Patel & Kanhyakumar.We should be mature enough to accommodate all.”
Patel, despite some created media speculation at times, remains against the BJP. “I don’t care about the cases against me, and demand reservation” he said. Significantly Patel who had visited Bihar before the state elections to make common cause with Janata Dal (U) leader Nitish Kumar who went on to win the polls further said, "We will oppose the BJP ahead of the Uttar Pradesh polls. We will campaign and stand with parties that support us."
Interestingly, however, Nitish Kumar who has turned sweet towards the BJP in recent weeks has declined Patel’s invitation to attend a large rally being planned in Gujarat on January 25. Kumar claimed that he will be campaigning in states going to the polls, although his affiliations in UP are still not clear.
The Congress party and Aam Aadmi Party have both been in touch with Patel who represents the powerful Pattidar community. His opposition to the BJP is seen as a sufficient setback by the ruling party, that used the carrot and stick policy against the 23 old but in vain. The young Pattidar was jailed for nine months in Surat following the agitation and then exiled by the courts from the state altogether, for six months, Patel remains close to Keshubhai Patel who can be described now as a constant BJP dissident.
AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal has met Patel and described him as a patriot. The Congress has been less public about its contacts with the Pattidar leader, but the BJP has accused the main opposition party in the state of fostering the dissent. Both the Congress and AAP will seek his support, but as local sources said, first Hardik Patel will have to work to revive his old constitutency, much of which is reported to have deserted him over the months. However, the reservation issue remains volatile with the Patels resentful of being denied their due despite their support for the BJP over the years.