He may have galvanised his Patel castemen by the quota stir, but Hardik Patel on Monday dismissed speculations about his political ambitions and said neither he nor anybody involved in the agitation will contest elections.
Hardik’s clarification came a day after some Patel leaders announced they were planning to contest the upcoming local bodies polls.
“PC Patel is not with us. He announced yesterday about his own party Bharatiya Rashtravadi Party (that it will contest local bodies polls). As far as I know, the name of this party was registered by him in 2003. This might be his attempt to gain political advantage from the ongoing agitation,” the 22-year-old Patel community leade alleged.
Hardik is the convener of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, while PC Patel belongs to Sardar Patel Group (SPG – a parallel organisation working for Patel quota), which had earlier supported PAAS in its bid to get the influential Patels included in the OBC category.
After their mega rally in the city on August 25 and subsequent violence across the state, SPG leader Lalji Patel drifted away and started a parallel movement.
Hardik today asked his fellow Patidar castemen to keep distance from anyone trying to take advantage of the agitation to further his political ambition.
“Formation of a political party is an attempt to mislead the Patel community for personal gains. PAAS is nowhere associated with it. I request people to stay away from those who are doing vote bank politics,” he said.
“I don’t have any political ambition. I don’t wish to become a (political) leader. I want to assure you that none of the PAAS leaders will ever contest any polls, not even as independent candidates. I give freedom to my community to throw stones at my house if I ever contest polls,” he said.
On the proposed ‘reverse’ Dandi March, called to press for reservation for Patidar community in government jobs and educational institutions, Hardik said more than 14 lakh Patels will participate in the march, which is scheduled to start on September 13 from Dandi in south Gujarat and conclude in Ahmedabad.
“When Gandhiji started the march, there were 78 people with him. Similarly, I will start the march with similar number of participants on September 13 from Dandi. As it would advance, more people will join us. We expect more than 14 lakh people to take part in the march,” he said.
He also asserted the march will be held even if the government denies permission for it.
About the ongoing protest against the march in 33 villages near Dandi which fall on the route, Hardik said since he does not want any confrontation with the villagers, the route to be taken by the marchers has been changed.
“I learnt that 33 villages of Koli-Patel (OBC) community are protesting against our march. They are our brothers and we don’t want any confrontation. We have decided not to take our march through these villages to avoid confrontation,” he said.
Hardik accused the state’s BJP government and its leaders of inciting the villagers to protest against the march.
“The BJP-led state government and some of its leaders are creating rift and enmity between communities by inciting villagers to protest against the march. BJP men were also behind recent protests against me in the city. This is their attempt to break the agitation,” he alleged.