The Gujarat government claimed on Tuesday that Patidar leader Hardik Patel’s quota movement was a politically-motivated agitation with the backing of the Congress.
This is for the first time that the BJP government has reacted to the agitation of the 25-year-old, who has been on an indefinite fast for the last 11 days, demanding loan waiver for farmers and quota for Patidars in government jobs and education under the Other Backward Class (OBC) category.
In a statement, Energy Minister Saurabh Patel said, “Patidar quota agitation is a political stir backed by the Congress. Ever since the agitation started three years back, we suspected that the Congress was behind it. Now, our suspicion has come true.”
Saurabh said the Congress leaders who went to meet Hardik at his residence are those who are “anti-BJP and opponents of Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.
“The quota stir is politically-motivated. The Congress needs to make its stand clear about reservation when the Supreme Court and various high courts have already made it clear that quota can not go beyond 50 per cent,” the minister said.
He urged the quota-agitation spearhead to allow doctors to conduct his medical check-up. “We are also worried about his health. Our government wants him to cooperate with doctors,” the BJP leader said, adding that a fully-equipped ambulance — ‘ICU on Wheels’ — and a team of doctors have been deployed at his residence.
Thanking the Patidar community for its “cooperation and maintaining peace” during the agitation, Saurabh said the government’s door were open for talks. “Since this agitation is a politically-motivated one, it has to end through political means. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani’s government is committed to maintain peace in the state,” he added.
Hardik had launched his hunger strike on August 25 — the third anniversary of his mega pro-quota rally in Ahmedabad which had turned violent that day in 2015.
He had Sunday released his “will” in which he divided his property among his parents, a sister, 14 youths killed during the quota agitation in 2015 and a panjrapole (shelter for ill and old cows) near his village.
Apart from the Congress, leaders and representatives of the Aam Aadmi Party, Trinamool Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Hindustani Awami Morcha (HAM) have so far visited Hardik at his residence and extended their support to him.