Ahmedabad: A 22-year-old youth, who claims that he is neither affiliated to nor backed by any political outfit, has emerged as the voice of the Patidar agitation in Gujarat. Hardik Patel, who hails from Viramgam town, is the man who has galvanised the influential Patel community and sparked off a state-wide agitation that threatens to polarise people further on the basis of caste.
Hailing from a middle class family of Chandrapur village near Viramgam in central Gujarat, Hardik Patel has been the force behind close to 100 rallies that have been organised across Gujarat with huge success, demanding reservation for Patidars in the OBC category. His contention that reservation is the solution to the problem of Patidar youth not getting admission into colleges and jobs in government, has witnessed huge support from the community.
Born on July 20, 1993, Hardik completed his schooling at K B Shah High School, after which he completed his B Com at Ahmedabad. His family wanted him to take up the family's water supply business. Hardik instead, set up the Sardar Patel Group in 2011, which was the first step in the agitation. Later, under the banner of the Patidar Aarakshan Andolan Samiti, Hardik Patel has organised close to a 100 rallies across Gujarat so far.
Hardik Patel did seek the support of politicians from both the BJP and the Congress in the initial stages of the agitation. And although he says that politicians are welcome to support the agitation, it is the Patel youth who are the force behind the agitation. And he spells out his demands clearly.
Speaking to CNN-IBN, Hardik Patel said, "There is merit and donation system in colleges. There are no jobs for Patel youth. What you are seeing on the roads? These 50 lakh people who have joined rallies is a result of the anger that is there is the Patel community."
Even as the state government continues its talks with Patidars to find out an amicable solution, Patel says the agitation will intensify further.