Ahmedabad: Reflecting back on his 19-day indefinite fast, which he called off on Wednesday in the face of deteriorating health, Patidar leader Hardik Patel vowed to continue his fight, but added that he needed to be “alive” to do so.
"This is not a defeat of Hardik Patel or victory of the government. The fight for rights of farmers and downtrodden will continue. I will be able to fight only if I am alive,” said Patel.
An independent assessment of Hardik’s decision to end his fast, however, can yield only one result – the fast did not yield the desired result.
The BJP government did not send a single emissary to Hardik Patel during the period of his 'indefinite' fast to deal with his three demands: farm loan waiver, quotas for Patidars, and release of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convener.
The PAAS further angered Patidar community leaders who attempted to mediate on Hardik's behalf with the government, by calling them BJP agents.
This shows the government's intent that it can no longer be arm-twisted into accepting demands.
The state government appeared relieved by Hardik Patel’s decision to end his fast as it will not have to worry about outbreak of violence.
In fact, the government looked to ridicule Hardik Patel. “Although late, Hardik’s decision to call off his fast is welcome. He has done it by his own will and without any conditions whatsoever,” Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said with a wry smile.
The smile clearly scoffing at the Patidar leader’s claim that there would be no backing off unless the government agrees to the demands.
Political observers say that the government’s own intelligence has a lot to do with the way it dealt with Hardik Patel.
Intelligence Bureau inputs have been consistent over the past one year that Hardik’s mass popularity has been decreasing steadily and this is more because of his alienation within the Patidar community.
Hardik’s methods and statements have often antagonised leaders of the six socio-religious Patidar organisations that hold massive sway over the community.
Fifteen days into his fast, leaders of six major Patidar organisations led by Khodal Dham and Umiya Dham, the seat of power of the Leuva and Kadva Patidars respectively, met representatives of the government to find a way out of the impasse due to Hardik Patel’s fast.
Reacting to the mediation meeting, PAAS said that CK Patel, who is convener of all the six Patidar organisations, is a BJP agent.
Reacting sharply to the allegation, CK Patel shot back,“Henceforth, Patidar organisations will not mediate with the government on behalf of Hardik Patel or PAAS. And if that has to be done, then we will seek a written letter from PAAS before doing so.”
Another embarrassment for Hardik and the PAAS was his decision to break off his fast by having water at the hands of Bihar leader Sharad Yadav when he had vehemently refused the attempts by community leaders earlier.
Hardik was at the SGVP hospital when Sharad Yadav met him and asked him to break his fast. Hardik Patel promptly obliged, much to the chagrin of the Patidar leaders who had been requesting him to do so over and over again.
Nitin Patel rubbed salt into Hardik’s wounds by taunting him.
“The sentiments of the Patidar community of Gujarat have been hurt. Hardik chose to have water at the hands of a leader from outside Gujarat even as all the Patidar community leaders, as well as people from political parties in Gujarat, were requesting him to do so,” Patel said on Wednesday after Hardik announced he would end his fast.
Hardik Patel will spend the next 100 days visiting villages and taking up issues of farmers, youth, women and the Patidar community. But one thing is certain – Hardik Patel’s actions over the recent past have clearly demonstrated that he is setting the stage for his entry into active politics. And it could be as early as 2019.