The rebel Patidar leader may be running out of options
With barely 10 months to go for the assembly elections in Gujarat, Hardik Patel, the young Patidar quota agitation leader who made waves in 2015, has come to a point where he has to make his political choices clear. And his chosen course will be key to both the fate of the Patels’ quota demand and to his own political future.
The alignments he has stitched up till now, like with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, are unlikely to aid Hardik’s objective of carving an electoral niche for himself as the leader of the state’s affluent Patel community.
Meanwhile, the BJP is being very cautious in its response to Hardik’s renewed threat of a Patidar agitation. Incumbent CM Vijay Rupani is playing a waiting game, hoping to wear Hardik down. He has also invited him for talks, aware that alienating the Patel youth would have serious consequences for the BJP in the coming polls. The Patidars, after all, have long been the political backbone of the saffron party.
THE AGITATORS Hardik meets the Thackerays in Mumbai