'Of 12 million Patels, 10 million are poor': Hardik Patel

'Of 12 million Patels, 10 million are poor': Hardik Patel

'Of 12 million Patels, 10 million are poor': Hardik Patel

Reservation cannot be abolished, says 22-year-old Hardik Patel, the man who galvanised Gujarat’s economically, socially and politically powerful Patel community.

The youth from a political landscape completely dominated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for over a decade has created ripples in the calm waters of the state and national politics by seeking OBC status for the forward community.

“It will have an adverse impact on others and they will stand up. We want to work with everyone for nation’s development and play an active role in an environment of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’,” he told Deccan Herald in an interview.

“In the last 10 years, over 10,000 farmers have committed suicide. People with 90 per cent marks do not get admission. A person with an MBA is selling undergarments. Of the 11.8 million Patels, 10 million are poor. This is their fight,” he said.

On being asked who he thought could have ordered his arrest at GMDC grounds, where he was on a fast, he said, “Like a General Dyer in Jallianwala Bagh, there definitely is a General Dyer behind this. From police, government or anti-social elements, I don’t know,” said Hardik.

He said the establishment was resorting to “goondagardi” (hooliganism) as it was rattled. “It is the public power, the Patel public power. Over 7 million Patels have come out in 55 days and this has unnerved the establishment,” he asserted.

Hardik also hit out at legislators and ministers from the Patel community, whom he blamed for “ditching” their people. “If they were real Patels, they would not have allowed police assault on women and children. They would simply resign,” he added.

He reiterated that the police action of entering houses, beat women and children mercilessly and using abusive language stoked violence. “If someone dares to touch our women, we do not wait for father’s permission. We just hit back,” he said.

On being asked how he felt when someone called him the second Modi, he shot back: “Who is saying this? I am no Modi. I am Sardar (referring to Vallabhbhai Patel). Sardar united the country without hitting anyone with a lathi or shedding blood. He even left the PM’s post and I am part of that proud lineage.”

To a query on whether Patels would have come out in such large numbers if Modi was around, he said: “Lakhs would still come. Modi is no god.” When asked if the movement that he is trying to take national, by aligning with Gujjars and 27 crore Patidars, would eventually turn into the second Mandal-Kamandal movement, he said: “The politicians may try but public knows everything.”