Hardik Patel, convenor of the little-known Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti has become an overnight sensation after lakhs of Patels in Gujarat have supported his call for an OBC quota for the business community.
Thirty years after the Patidars or Patels of Gujarat took to the streets protesting against reservation for Dalits, Adivasis and Other Backward Castes in government jobs and educational institutions, they are agitating once again. This time, the Patels want reservation under the Other Backward Castes (OBC) quota. They are being led by Hardik Patel, who has become the face of the movement as his organisation Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) has been holding massive rallies vociferously demanding reservation. The latest rally was held in Ahmedabad on August 25 which was reportedly attended by close to five lakh people.
So who is Hardik Patel?
22-year old Hardik began his life in politics as a member of the Sardar Patel Group, and president of its Virangam unit. Patel is reported to have been ousted from the post and the party due to internal politics. SPG members also lodged an FIR against Patel, according to a report in The Times of India.
After his ouster from SPG, he joined the little-known and newly formed PAAS, making it the platform for a movement to demand reservation for the Patidars in the OBC category. Hardik believes that the Patidar community is losing out in the developmental race in the country due to the reservation quota. He has demanded for an OBC quota for Patels so that they get an equal chance to compete. PAAS attempts to prove that despite the notion that Patels are prosperous, there are farmers from the community who are committing suicide in the villages of Gujarat.
Hardik Patel’s claim to fame came when PAAS successfully orchestrated a rally in Surat in July earlier this year and his face graced national television channels after a wave of rallies in Ahmedabad earlier this month.
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