Speaking at a mega rally of the community here earlier in the day, Hardik warned the state government that “lotus” (the BJP symbol) will not bloom in 2017 assembly elections if their demand of inclusion in the OBC quota was not met. They argue that India’s byzantine, decades-old affirmative action system known as reservations – created to elevate historically marginalized castes and tribes – has left them behind.
“I want to tell the government that if you don’t give the reservation, we Patels know how to snatch it from you because we are the descendants of Sardar Patel”, said Hardik Patel. “There is no other option”.
“We have elected representatives from Gujarat and we have sent representatives to the Centre, they are not there just to make laws or to amend the Constitution”.
Patidar youths moving with sticks in their hands are seen moving across the city of Ahmedabad on bikes in different groups.
This despite the general perceptions about the Patels, who belong to the Patidar community, that they are a rich and prosperous community.
Many reporters who had rushed on the spot to cover the incident also were at the receiving end as the power connection on the venue was cut off. Sources also said that several parked vehicles were also damaged in the incident.
Meanwhile, Hardik Patel has called for a state-wide bandh on Wednesday to intensify the agitation.
The Patels have historically been politically powerful landowners and diamond polishers in India. The state government has already formed a seven-member committee to resolve their demand but according to PAAS, the government is trying to thwart their rally by giving such short notice for consultation. In 1985, we sent the Congress government packing.
“The so-called Gujarat model has not been able to generate employment for the younger generation”, said Achyut Yagnik, a prominent sociologist.
But a slowdown in small and medium industries – where many Patels are employed – in Gujarat has led to a drying up of employment opportunities, reports say. As many as 146 communities fall under the OBC category now.
But it has also generated resentment from excluded groups that has periodically flared into communal violence, as in the 1980s, when Patels launched anti-reservation protests in Gujarat.
Speaking to reporters after state cabinet meeting Tuesday, the Bihar CM said: “I extend my good wishes to Hardik Patel for his cause”.
As a result, Anandiben Patel has spent the last week putting out videos that aim to clarify why the government can not take its reservation amount over 50%, and has asked the Patidar leaders to call off their agitation.