Leaders of Patel community in Uttar Pradesh plan to support Hardik Patel’s campaign for quota, though it is unlikely to produce as much interest in state. Patel leaders, or ‘kurmis’, said that they would support 22-year-old Hardik in his efforts to mobilise and unite Patels.
It may be noted, that in the 1990s, UP had seen kurmis raise a slogan to unite all Patels irrespective of sub-castes such as Verma and Gangwar.
This is the main reason why a kurmi-dominated political party such as Apna Dal which allied with the BJP in the last general polls, is considering Hardik Patel’s call for unity. “As far as Patel or kurmi unity goes, we are for it and it is with this aim that the party was launched in the first place,” said Pallavi Patel, vice president of the Apna Dal.
Hardik Patel chose to speak in Hindi, and not Gujarati, at his massive rally in Ahmedabad, so as to give a pan Indian character to his protest.
While this was so, BJP leaders were guarded in their response. “UP is a volatile political ground. Anyone can try their luck, but such unabashed caste agendas may not be helpful,” said party spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak.
Influential kurmi politicians from both the Congress and the BJP rule out Hardik Patel. “The reservation issue on which he has based his entire agitation can’t hold water in the state,” said veteran BJP leader Vinay Katiyar.
As photos of Hardik Patel with VHP leaders surfaced on social media, theories that he is back by forces opposed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi gained currency.
Reports suggested Hardik Patel visited Barabanki in November last year for a meeting of the Akhil Bharatiya Mahasabha, where the Patel community’s new poster boy is believed to have realised how his community enjoyed reservation unevenly across the state.