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Countdown to Modi’s endgame: Hardik

May 14, 2019 06:30 AM

COURTESY TIMES OF INDI AMAY 14Countdown to Modi’s endgame: Hardik
The Man Who Gave BJP Sleepless Nights During 2017 Assembly Elections Stirs Up Things In UT For Cong Candidate
At 23, he became the face of the reservation stir in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state. The fallout of the stir were significant with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) barely managing to win Gujarat in 2017 assembly elections. Hardik Patel, had managed to dent the traditional Patidar vote bank of the BJP. Hardik recently joined the Congress and is now campaigning across the country for his party. In a free-wheeling chat with Swati Bhan, he talks about his decision to join a political party, allegations of him having compromised on the reservation stand and why the reservation issue has been sidelined by all political parties.

You started off your movement on the plank of reservation and till a year ago, it was seen as one of the major issues for the parliamentary elections. But the elections are almost over and the states where you extended your support have not seen reservation play out as a major issue. It was your lifeline but forgotten now.


All the mainstream parties have fought on the issues that are plaguing the youth today. Lack of employment and lack of opportunities. If reservation was not an issue, Modi-led government would not have hurried into the decision of announcing 10% reservation for the economically backward classes. That is where it all began. When we started the reservation andolan (movement) known as the Patidaar Anamat Andolan (PAAS) we had started with the cause of reservation for the economically backward and after three years the government has actually thought about it and are implementing it. So reservation has never been out of the mind of the ruling party. We forced the BJP to implement it. But even in terms of implementation they have not been true to what they promised. They are not bothered about the welfare of the people. The countdown to Narendra Modi end game has begun.

Why was joining the Congress the only option?

The Congress is a party which has the vision and the will to do something for the people of this country. The BJP, on the contrary, is a party of opportunism. If they had to think of implementing reservation, which it ultimately did, then why did it allow the killing of youths in Gujarat in the name of reservation? They are talking of so many investment summits and how easy is to do business in India today. Where are the investors and where are the jobs, then? Why is there no commitment of providing employment to the youth?

If business houses are setting up businesses on farmlands why are

farmers not compensated adequately? These are some of the issues which Congress takes up whenever in power and the BJP has been ignoring it every time and everywhere when in power. Differing voices are heard in the Congress, Modi’s BJP is dictatorial. But PM Modi’s days are numbered.

Was it better off being the face of reservation or did you prefer taking a plunge into mainstream politics?

I have a long way to go and there are a lot of issues in the country, problems pertaining to youth need to be heard and attended and Congress is the only party that can visualize a future. They are led by youth leaders. The BJP on the other hand is dictatorial, there is no place for discussion with the party leaders and the voice of the youth are never heard in BJP. Without having joining mainstream politics it would be difficult to take it to a larger platform and get it addressed. And, after all, Sardar Patel was one of the founders of the Congress.

Many accuse you of being an opportunist. Some even say ‘he would even crossover to BJP if offered a prominent position’. Your take on that.

From the point the PAAS movement started, I was offered positions in the BJP. But that was never an option. The BJP will always have their own opinion and their way of functioning, a difference of opinion is never accepted in the BJP. If there is an independence of thought, it is with the Congress. And my movement started against the BJP so how can I align myself with the party against whom I revolted.

Your own community feels you have cheated them by joining a political party. So, how will you be able to convince youth of other parts of the country?

If my community had betrayed me I would have never been able to hold rallies and meet other parts of the country. Youth are able to align with me and their problems can be related.

 

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