The agitation for quotas for Patels in government jobs and educational institutions will be expanded to other states and include castes like Kurmis and Gujjars, Hardik Patel, who led the stir that plunged Gujarat into violence said on Sunday.
“Whatever has happened in Gujarat, we want to take it to the national level and there are (people of) around 12 states who are connected to us,” 22-year-old Patel, leader of the upper caste Patidar community said, which wants to muscle its way to the quota list, told journalists in Delhi.
Patel, who met some leaders of the Kurmi, Koeri and Gujjar communities among others with whom he said the Patidars of Gujarat had kinship, said the agitation for reservation was “a marathon and not a 100-metre race”, which had to be run over 1-2 years.
Kurmis and Koeris, about whom Patel talked, already figure in reservation list in key Hindi heartland states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, which also has Gujjars in that category.
The firebrand young Patel leader of Gujarat, whose photographs brandishing a gun had been published in some national dailies a few days ago, had led a massive rally of his castemen in Ahmedabad on August 25 to seek quotas for them.
“It (agitation) is a marathon and not a 100-metre race. It will go on for 1-2 years. I intend to bring 27 crore people of our community together who are in different states. I want to take our movement all over the nation. Wherever the Patel community needs me, I will go, Hardik told the Press.
“During this time, if we feel there is the need to show the muscle power of the community, we will do. Whenever required, they (these communities) will block the highways,” Patel told a news conference at the Delhi Press Club.
“We intend to organise a mega rally in Lucknow, at Jantar Mantar in Delhi…. we will give a call to the Patels of India (to join the movement),” he said.
Patel favoured reservation for the poor belonging to all communities as he denounced caste-based quotas.
“The country has gone back 60 years because of reservations and this has hindered its prospects of becoming a super power. Those who score good marks but are still unable to get admission require reservation”.
“The day there is a proper blueprint on reservation, we can strengthen our country and take it to a new level,” he said.
Hardik Patel also lashed out at the Gujarat Police for its action during the agitation and said he will be holding a mega-rally in Madhya Pradesh on Monday against it.
Noting that while there was too much talk of the Gujarat model, no such thing existed in the state where, Patel claimed, 8900 farmers, all Patels, had committed suicide.
“Reservations have been given to 182 castes of which only 4-5 castes are in Gujarat. In 1984, there was opposition from the Patel community (before the Mandal Commission) to reservations.
“Today the system has become weak and youth are not getting employment. Farmers are committing suicide and those who have an MBA degree have become salesmen,” he said.
During his stay in the national capital today, Patel held meetings with Akhil Bhartiya Kurmi Kshatriya Mahasabha chief Pam Prasad Chaudhary, Akhil Bhartiya Chaudhary Anjana Samiti president Deeparam Patel and General Secretary of Rashtriya Lok Samata Party general secretary Akhilesh Katiyar, a Kurmi leader from UP. He also met some leaders of the Akhil Bhartiya Gujjar Mahasabha.