‘1,000 Hardiks Will Rise': 22-Year-Old Challenges BJP Chief Amit Shah

AHMEDABAD:  Hardik Patel, Gujarat’s 22-year-old politician, has in a message shared on WhatsApp, asked BJP chief Amit Shah to “stay away” from the agitation he is leading for reservation in government jobs and colleges for the Patel community in the state.

“I request Amit Shah to stay away from the Patel community’s agitation to get reservation. We will not stop it just because you want it. The agitation will not stop till I am alive. And if you still want to crush the stir by force, then you will have to kill me,” Hardik Patel said.

In Ahmedabad, also Amit Shah’s home-town, Hardik Patel said he had “learned from sources” that Amit Shah has been tasked with mediating to end the Patel agitation. “Since we will not end the stir merely on his request, we know that he will use other tactics and force our movement to finish. So I have issued that open message asking him to stay away,” Mr Patel said.

BJP leaders here did not react to Mr Patel’s comments and said they do not know of any plans for Mr Shah to visit Gujarat to resolve the reservation row. In Mr Patel’s challenge to the BJP chief, they see a new attempt to draw attention.

“Even if you kill me, thousand other Hardiks will rise. Try to accept our demands and give us justice. Otherwise, do whatever you can do,” said Mr Patel, who has alleged that he is being prevented from holding rallies and public meetings in Gujarat at the behest of Mr Shah, whose party governs the state.

Hardik Patel is demanding that either the Patels, wealthy and politically influential, be included among the castes that benefit from affirmative action in Gujarat, or then all quota be scrapped. He has also repeatedly reminded the BJP that the Patels have played an important role in powering its political ascent in Gujarat.

The Anandiben Patel government has said it will be unable to meet Mr Patel’s demands and has also prevented the young politician from gathering crowds and addressing public meetings ever since his brief detention after a rally in Ahemedabad led to two days of violence in several cities.

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