End of the road? Hardik fears 2015 fallout in 2019

Virendra Pandit Ahmedabad | Updated on March 28, 2019

Patidar leader Hardik Patel strode through Gujarat’s socio-political firmament like a colossus, spearheading an agitation pushing for reservation to Patel youths in education and employment.

In 2015, the 21-year-old youth assembled a million-strong crowd in Ahmedabad. His massive rallies brought towns and cities to a halt, one even leading to a police action in Ahmedabad in which some of his supporters were killed. He faced court cases and exile, and the mayhem he led claimed the chair of Anandiben Patel, the first woman Chief Minister of Gujarat.

Hardik Patel revelled in keeping everybody, including political parties and supporters, on tenterhooks. He rubbed shoulders with the high and mighty in India’s Opposition parties, whose senior leaders lined up to meet him as he fasted time and again to press for his “demands”.

Three-and-a-half-years later, his Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PASS) has virtually become defunct, as many of his erstwhile supporters deserted and joined the BJP. Others accused him on various counts and disappeared.

To demonstrate his relevance, Hardik joined the Congress on March 12 in the presence of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and AICC General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, among others, soon after the CWC meeting. Amid speculation that the Congress could field him from Jamnagar in the Lok Sabha election, Rahul said Hardik would “win”.

‘Past catches up’

However, the pending court cases against him and the delay in the Congress’ nomination appears to have rattled him. On Tuesday, he wrote to the Congress President to find a “suitable” candidate to replace him. He said the case pending against him in the Gujarat High Court could mean that he may not be exonerated in time to file his nomination. He said the Congress should not wait for a final order and announce its candidate.

Published on March 28, 2019

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