Ahmedabad: Nineteen days into a fast that landed him in hospital, Patidar reservation movement leader Hardik Patel announced that he is calling off his fast.
None of the three demands for which he was fasting — Patidar reservation, farm loan waivers and release of a PAAS convener arrested under sedition charges — have been accepted by the Gujarat government.
Hardik is said to have decided to call of his fast and hit the streets again as the Gujarat government showed no inclination of talking to him even after his health deteriorated considerably last week. He is expected to announce a state-wide yatra again, thanking people for supporting him through the fast.
“Leaders of all major socio-religious Patidar organisations personally requested Hardik Patel to call off his fast and he has agreed. As far as PAAS is concerned, the struggle for reservation will go on, and we want Hardik Patel to be fully fit and healthy to carry on this struggle. The heads of Umiya Dham and Khodal Dham will be present with other Patidar community leaders when Hardik ends his fast. He will now participate in all Patidar reservation rallies that will be held henceforth,” Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convener Manoj Panara said.
Citing Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel, Panara said fasting and dharnas are powerful, non-violent methods which were used against the British Raj successfully.
“However, look at the present state government. It has been 19 days since Hardik Patel began his fast. This is the most insensitive government that the state has had so far,” he said.
Urging Patidars across the state to unite for Ganeshotsav and make a strong pitch for reservation, Panara said, “Ganeshotsav is coming. In earlier days, the Ganesha festival was used as a means to unite people against the British Raj. We Patidars should also attempt the same thing this Ganeshotsav,” he said.
Reacting to Hardik’s decision to end his fast, the government said it was the right step, belated as it may be. “It is a good decision although it is late. This decision is good for the state, safety of the people and to ensure peace across the state. The government welcomes Hardik’s decision to end fast which has been announced without any conditions. I have said this is in the past and I am repeating it that this government is committed for the welfare and prosperity of every community in Gujarat and that includes the Patidar community as well,” Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said.
Asked if a delegation of Patidar leaders will be meeting government representatives on Wednesday, Patel said that no such appointment has been sought. “The government has been open to talks with all Patidar organisations and has always been open to taking suggestions and recommendations from them. If Patidar organisations want to hold talks with the government, they are always welcome to do so,” he said.
Taking a dig at Hardik, the deputy CM said that midway his fast, he preferred to accept water from “a leader like Sharad Yadav”, who is not from Gujarat, but refused to drink water when top leaders of socio-religious Patidar organisations requested him.
Meanwhile, CK Patel, the convener of six major Patidar organisations which represent Patels from across the state, said that he welcomed Hardik’s decision to end his fast. “We have been requesting him to call off his fast for over 10 days now and it is a good decision by him. It is important that the community remains united so that issues concerning the community can be represented more forcefully,” Patel said.