Hardik’s hunger strike enters 14th day; Cong attempts to usurp stir

Virendra Pandit | | Updated on: Sep 06, 2018

Party asks Rupani govt to accede to Patidar leader’s demands

There goes a Gujarati saying: Cha karta kitli vadhare garam (the kettle is hotter than the tea).

On Wednesday evening, Hardik Patel’s supporters had given Gujarat’s BJP government a 24-hour ultimatum, asking it to despatch its representatives to the venue of the Patidar leader’s fast and accept his demands, in writing. If the Vijay Rupani government did not yield, Hardik would stop taking water, again. With no government official turning up, Hardik did as he threatened.

Instead, on Thursday evening, riding on the 25-year-old’s agitation, nearly 25 Congress lawmakers met Chief Minister Rupani and his ministerial colleagues, demanding a farm-loan waiver, and a resolution to Hardik’s 13-day-old fast, in that order! Clearly, the main Opposition party wanted to shift focus to itself, especially since Hardik has spurned offers to join the Grand Old Party, and kept it guessing in the last three years.

After a brief meeting with the CM, Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani said the BJP government, “insensitive and arrogant”, had failed to protect the interests of various communities, including farmers. The son of one of a farmer, Hardik, had been on a hunger strike for 13 days, he added.

He also said that if the State government failed to accept the demands at once, the Congress workers would go on a 24-hour fast at district headquarters across Gujarat from 11 am on Friday. Dhanani had written to the CM asking for an appointment to submit a memorandum. “We explained to him our concerns. The CM heard us out with sympathy.”

Former Gujarat Congress chief Arjun Modhwadia said the CM did not provide them any assurance. “We have urged him to take steps so Hardik can end his fast.”

On the other hand, after a team from Sola Civil Hospital examined him, doctors advised Hardik to get hospitalised for treatment as his weight continued to plummet, and he complained of stomach ache and weakness. His kidney and liver could be affected, the doctors said.

Meanwhile, supporters of Hardik’s Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) observed a bandh in the Patel-dominated areas of Surat, Mehsana and other places. Choksi Bazar, the diamond market in Surat, remained closed. In Amreli district, 200 Patidar youths sat on a day’s symbolic fast.

For the first 11 days of Hardik’s indefinite fast, neither the Congress nor the BJP government had paid him much attention, even as non-BJP, non-Congress party leaders backed him. Former Union Ministers Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha, as also former Gujarat CM Suresh Mehta, too, had met Hardik.

But when the PAAS tried to intensify the stir across Gujarat on Wednesday, both the parties suddenly woke up, particularly after Rajiv Satav, AICC in-charge of Gujarat and a close confidante of party chief Rahul Gandhi, came calling on Wednesday. Groups of Patidars’ social and religious bodies also tried to intervene between PAAS and the State government but soon fell out. On Thursday evening, Khodaldham Trust Chairman Naresh Patel said he was ready to mediate if both the sides agreed.

Published on September 06, 2018
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