The Indian political space is a colourful space filled with various characters, who each play an important role to maintain the vibrancy of our democracy.
One such Youth leader is Hardik Patel.
Hardik Patel was the working president of the Congress party’s Gujrat unit.
In July 2020 became the youngest leader in the party to have held such a senior post in Gujarat – he was just 27.
But before that, he was very much active in Gujrat politics and was a staple leader for the Patidar reservation movement in Gujrat
But what are his political roots? How was he propelled towards this stardom? And what are his current political whereabouts? Let us all find out.
Explosive political beginnings.
Hardik comes from Chandan Nagri, a small agrarian Patidar-dominated village of Viramgam taluka in the Ahmedabad district.
As he lived in the community he saw the problems of the community, which lead him to act politically and become the voice of this community.
To fulfil his political ambitions he joined a social organisation called Sardar Patel Group (SPG), of Mehsana in North Gujarat, led by Lalji Patel, working for the Patidar community.
It was SPG that started the Patidar agitation in 2015, seeking OBC status for the community.
Young Turk Hardik handled the social media affairs of the SPG group then.
Hardik was always a very influential figure in the Patidar agitation.
Hardik in the summer of 2015 plunged into a violent agitation on the same reservation issue in Mehsana, where the mob burnt a local BJP leader’s office.
This was a major turning point in his political carrier.
He broke away from Lalji Patel due to ideological differences and floated Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), which eventually became the main organisation seeking OBC reservation for the Patidar community.
He continued to use political speeches and aggression to get more eyeballs toward the reservation issue, gaining a huge following in the youth of the community.
An example of this is when- Hardik Patel was detained on August 5th 2015 after one of his rallies turned violent, the community rioted against this detention, and 14 patidars lost their life in the whole ordeal, showing the influence of Hardik Patel on the community.
Subsequently, he held several public rallies.
In the process, several criminal cases were registered against him, including three cases of sedition in different parts of Gujarat.
He was arrested on charges of sedition in October 2015 and spent 9 months in jail.
He was granted bail on one condition to stay away from Gujarat for six months.
Hardik stayed in Udaipur in Rajasthan during this period of exile and returned to Gujarat in January 2017.
In August 2018 he continued the agitation by going on a hunger strike for 19 days.
Hardik and The Congress party: A brief Stint
For a significant period during the quota agitation, Hardik did not align with any political party, though he targeted the BJP, which has been in power in Gujarat for more than 25 years now.
In the meanwhile, many of his close aides deserted him, he found very new unlikely allies, one of which was congress.
In the Runoff to the 2017 state election, Hardik asked a gathering of Patidars in Patan town of North Gujarat to vote for Congress, and give the party a chance of governing the state.
He then actively canvassed against BJP and in support of Congress in the Assembly elections. The BJP could win the elections only by a thin margin, even as its tally remained below 100.
Hardik later joined the congress in 2019 formally and climbed the party ladder fast, becoming the working president of the Congress party’s Gujrat unit in under a year.
He seemed eager to fight the Lok Sabha polls, but could not due to his conviction in July 2018 in a case of rioting, arson and leading the unlawful assembly in Visnagar in July 2015.
Current Political whereabouts
Currently, he is no longer part of Congress.
He bid farewell to the party today by officially resigning as Gujrat Congress working president.
On Twitter he posted “Today after mustering courage, I am resigning from the party post and primary membership of the congress. I hope my followers and people of Gujrat will welcome my step.”
But this should not come to people as a shock as, for the past year, Hardik Patel had been criticising the Congress’s state leadership accusing them of not keeping him in the loop over organisational decisions and sabotaging his political prospects.
The strong resignation
In a very bold and strongly-worded resignation addressed to party president Sonia Gandhi he mentioned that Congress has just acted as a national roadblock on issues that the country wanted solutions for like the Ram temple at Ayodhya, revocation of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir and Implementation of GST.
Sounding like he is praising his arch-nemesis the BJP and PM Narendra Modi.
He also lashed out at the party’s top leadership accusing them of “vacationing abroad” and termed Gujrat Congress as the greatest betrayal to the people of Gujrat.
He also mentioned “When it came to issues related to India, Gujarat and my Patidar community, Congress’s only stand was to oppose whatever the government of India led by Prime Minister Narendra Modiji did! Congress today has been rejected in almost every state of India because the party and its leadership have not been able to present a basic roadmap to the people,”
He had also met Khodaldham founder and Patidar leader Naresh Patel two days ago.
Finally, he ended his letter by saying “I did not know that the hearts and minds of the leadership of the Congress are filled with such hatred towards our country, towards my community and especially towards the youth.”
आज मैं हिम्मत करके कांग्रेस पार्टी के पद और पार्टी की प्राथमिक सदस्यता से इस्तीफा देता हूँ। मुझे विश्वास है कि मेरे इस निर्णय का स्वागत मेरा हर साथी और गुजरात की जनता करेगी। मैं मानता हूं कि मेरे इस कदम के बाद मैं भविष्य में गुजरात के लिए सच में सकारात्मक रूप से कार्य कर पाऊँगा। pic.twitter.com/MG32gjrMiY
— Hardik Patel (@HardikPatel_) May 18, 2022
All of this shows that he has had an extensive political journey and has the support of a major chunk of his population the community.
What is his political future? we can only speculate will he join the BJP or will he float his party only time will tell.
But one thing is for sure Congress again has lost a very capable leader due to their inabilities.
Credits:- Times Of India, Indian Express and Hindustan Times
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