Hardik Patel is being dubbed the ‘New Modi’ by a few and ‘Gujarat’s Kejriwal’ by others.
Hardik has been able to bring thousands from his community across the state in over 100 rallies in two months. His sway was such that an estimated million Patels gathered in Ahmedabad on August 25, to listen to him. Hardik is now the face of reservation demand by socially, politically and economically dominant community from Gujarat – the Patels.
The 22-year-old commerce graduate from Ahmedabad, in a short span of 55 days, has been able to galvanise his entire community. They now appear firmly rallying behind him to seek status of Other Backward Class (OBC) and reservation in education as well as government jobs.
Not many in the state know of his political affiliations. Some say his father, Bharatbhai Patel, is a BJP worker. Others say he is close to Dr Pravin Togadia of Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Some say he is a dummy for few Patel leaders who want Chief Minister Anandiben Patel to be sacked while others call him a staunch Kejriwal supporter. A photo showing him with the Delhi chief minister has gone viral on social media.
As for him, Hardik takes pain to explain that he has no political affiliations nor support of any political party. He says that he belongs to a middle-class family from Chandrapur village near Viramgam in central Gujarat. He began his political work with the setting up of Sardar Patel Group to “protect the interests” of the Patidar community in 2011. He has been the President of its Viramgam unit since. His Facebook profile suggests that over 30,000 people became members of the group in a short span of two years.