Ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections 2017, the state has found a star politician who is considered the main opposition than Congress in the high-octane battle against the ruling BJP. The 24-year-old Hardik Patel, who has been addressing multiple rallies in Gujarat in the wake of upcoming polls, has said that he is sure PM Modi will not win in Gujarat this time. In an exclusive interview with NewsX, the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader talks about the upcoming elections and here is what he has to say:
You are meeting politicians across the country. What is the agenda behind it?
To understand the politics at different levels, I met a lot of politicians like Nitish Kumar, Uddhav Thackeray and Praful Patel and I came out with a conclusion that different states have a different political temperament. But among all the political parties, I found Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) very opinionated and arrogant.
In Gujarat, those who are rich and have an affiliation with the BJP party can be in politics. If you are fighting against the ‘mighty’ powers, you will be put behind bars. I am a 24-year-old and boys of my age are busy eating burgers in college canteens. But my agenda is different. I meet people at different levels to understand what really has gone wrong all these years.
Your party’s name is Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti and not Gujarat Anamat Andolan Samiti? Are you also trying to indulge in caste politics?
More than 60 lakh youth are jobless in Gujarat. Farmers are reeling under heavy debt. The brothers and sisters from my community are not getting quality education. They are jobless. Shouldn’t I do something for them. Don’t I have the right to stand up for them? If this is caste politics, then yes I am doing caste politics. PM Modi is talking about smart cities and crores are being spent on the project. But he focussed on ‘smart villages’ also; people wouldn’t have left their homes.
What prompted you to join politics?
Even after having degrees, I used to see my friends struggling for jobs. I have seen farmers struggling to get good prices for their crop. I haven’t seen even one single farmer in my life who is living a healthy and prosperous life. They are ending up their lives. In today’s world, riches are become richer and poor are becoming poorer. This is what pains me the most.
Your turning point in life?
When we first started our protest, it was just about the reservation. But what did they do? They put us behind the bars. When I came out of the college, I realised that there are issues that need to be addressed. I won’t talk big like Modiji that when I was a kid, I fought a crocodile. But I do realise that there is a sense of fear in the state of Gujarat. Nobody calls Dawood Ibrahim a traitor but I have treason charges against me. We achieved freedom from Britishers but not from the looters who are selling the country of its resources and everything.
What do you have to say about people attending your rallies? Would you fulfil your reservation promise? If yes, then what is your plan of action?
We are fighting against the present government and this is what people are liking. They know there is someone who is not afraid of BJP and can speak up for the oppressed people of Gujarat. I will try my best to fulfil my promise of reservation and truth is my only weapon.
BJP and Congress are two major parties in this election. Who do you think will help Patels in achieving reservation?
Congress has offered us support and my outfit PAAS has accepted the quota formula given by the party.
What do you have to say about your alleged sex CD?
Dirty politics has begun now. It will not make any difference to me by defaming me. But the image of the Gujarati women is being tarnished.