Everything you wanted to know about Patel agitation in Gujarat

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Who is Hardik Patel?

21-year-old Hardik Patel is the convener of two months old Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS). He is a B.Com graduate from Ahmedabad Sahajanand College. He belongs to a middle class family based in Viramgam, rural Ahmedabad. Hardik Patel is a great orator and is being compared to ‘Modi.’ He is also called the ‘New Modi.’ While there are others who draw a parallel with him and Arvind Kejriwal

What are the demands of Patel agitators?

The protesters demand that Patel community to be listed under Other Backward Castes (OBC). They also want 5% quota for landless Patidars under special backward class quota.

Can Gujarat government provide reservation to Patel community?

Gujarat’s Chief Minister Anandiben Patel has said that Patels could not be added to the list of more than 100 castes under OBC. She has underlined that Gujarat has already hit the cap of 50% reservations mandated by the Supreme Court.

What is the status of Patel community in Gujarat?

Patels constitute 20% of Gujarat’s population. Patel community is economically and socially powerful in Gujarat but the protesters say lower caste reservations have put them at a disadvantage. Patels, who control the lucrative diamond cutting and polishing industry of Gujarat, are among the most prosperous businessmen and farmers in the state.

Why did the rally turn violent?

Supporters of Hardik Patel say that they were organising a peaceful mass gathering of thousands of people from Patel community in Ahmedabad on August 25. Hardik Patel addressed the gathering. It took a violent turn after Hardik Patel was briefly arrested before police starting to beat the crowd with lathi (canes). This angered the crowd prompting them to go on rampage burning several buses, motorcycles, vans and damaging public properties throughout the night on Tuesday.  Violence spread to Rajkot, Surat and Mehsana. Around 70 buses were damaged by protesters at different places. A curfew has now been imposed across the state. Schools, colleges and businesses remained closed in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.

Which political parties are backing the Patel protesters?

The Congress claims that Patel protesters are backed by a small faction of Patel community within the BJP. The BJP claims that Hardik Patel is a Congress creation to divide the Patels, who constitute the major votebank of BJP in Gujarat. Both parties are, however, against the reservations for Patels. There are reports that Hardik Patel has also been a member of Aam Aadmi Party at some time but the only party he claims belonging to is of Patidars.

What is the next step for Patel protesters?

After protests and sporadic violence in the state, Hardik Patel has sat on a fast. He has given a 48 hour deadline to the government announcing that he will be sitting on fast until the Chief Minister personally comes and assures him that their demands would be met. He has also threatened to take the reservation movement outside Gujarat involving Patel community from the states of Rajasthan, Bihar, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.