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Fasting Hardik Patel’s Declining Health, Rising Political Support Puts Gujarat Govt in a Tough Spot

Fasting Hardik Patel’s Declining Health, Rising Political Support Puts Gujarat Govt in a Tough Spot

The statement of state energy minister Saurabh Patel signalled that the Gujarat government may blink first in this stand-off.

Ahmedabad: Sensing that rising support for the indefinite fast of Hardik Patel might cause harm to it, Gujarat government on Tuesday said it was worried about the health of the Patidar reservation stir leader and advised him to follow the advice of doctors checking up on him.

Hardik has been fasting for 11 days now to demand reservation for Patidars in jobs and admissions, and farm loan waiver. That the Gujarat government appeared to blink first in this stand-off was evident from the statement of state energy minister Saurabh Patel.

Patel, who was in Gandhinagar, said the state government was worried about Hardik’s health, but maintained the earlier stand that his fast was motivated and sponsored by Congress.

“We are worried about Hardik’s health and the government has deployed a fully equipped ICU on wheels ambulance outside his house round-the-clock. He is not following the advice of doctors who have been checking him and we appeal to him to co-operate with doctors,” the minister said.

Saurabh Patel also listed out several measures that have been announced for farmers as well as those from the non-reserved categories.

The anxiety of the government, however, appears to be more because of the growing support he is receiving from political leaders.

Several Congress leaders have visited the Patidar leader and many more have appealed to the Gujarat government to end the deadlock. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, former Prime Minister Deve Gowda are among those who have extended support.

Former finance minister Yashwant Sinha, sulking BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha and former Gujarat CM Suresh Mehta visited Hardik on Tuesday.

"It has been so many days but neither the central nor state government have initiated any dialogue with Hardik Patel. Shatrughan Sinha and I thought we should personally come down and meet Hardik Patel. We will take this struggle across the country," Sinha told the media later.

Sinha asked if farmers’ loans can be waived off in other parts of the country, why not in Gujarat. “When Hardik Patel is slapped with sedition charges, it gives an impression that this is vendetta," he said.

Leaders and representatives of Trinamool Congress, NCP and RJD also visited Hardik at his residence near Ahmedabad, the venue of his fast.

Saurabh Patel also said that the political support vindicates their stand of the past three years. “The Patidar reservation agitation is fully motivated by the Congress. The Congress is using the agitation to target the government. Almost all the leaders who have met Hardik Patel in the past eleven days are from the Congress party,” he said.

Six Patidar organisations have also convened a meeting at Umiya Dham in Ahmedabad on Tuesday afternoon and will take a joint decision on their stand regarding the fast. Representatives of these Patidar organisations are likely to meet a couple of top ministers in the government and convey their stand on the issue to the government.

Meanwhile, with the police clamping down on Patidars from across the state who attempt to travel to Ahmedabad to join the fast, Hardik’s supporters have begun playing `Ram Dhuns’ in different towns and cities, much to the embarrassment of the government.

A `Ram Dhun’ or a devotional song began playing at Hardik’s fast venue since Tuesday morning even as similar tunes were played in various towns and cities of the state.

first published:September 04, 2018, 16:31 IST