By Prarthana Mitra
Patidar leader Hardik Patel’s indefinite fast, demanding a loan waiver for farmers and quota for the OBC community he claims to represent, has entered its eleventh day on Tuesday. Although support and solidarity have been pouring in for the Gujarat youth from political parties all over the country, the centre has not deigned to comment on his condition or demands yet.
Instead, several local leaders were prevented from visiting Patel at Ahmedabad, reportedly at the behest of the BJP. According to media reports, supporters of Patel were lathi-charged by the police, when they went to meet him on Sunday.
Sola civil hospital has dispatched an ICU on wheels to keep vigil at his residence, but Patel has strengthened his resolve, saying he won’t accept medical aid or check-up until the police stop harassing all those people trying to visit.
Why did Hardik Patel go on a fast unto death?
Patel launched the hunger strike on August 25, to commemorate the violence that broke out three years ago, during the pro-quota rally he had led. His demands remain the same to this day; include Patidars under the OBC quota for government jobs and education, and waive loans for farmers.
Patel was forced to stage the fast at his Ahmedabad home after state BJP leaders refused permission for the fast at a public venue, PTI reported.
Opposition and regional parties voice support
Demanding central intervention, former prime minister and JD(S) leader HD Deve Gowda wrote a strongly-worded letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to constitute a commission for looking into the quota demands. Gowda had also written another letter to Patil, urging him to give up the fast unto death because the nation needs the youth leader “to fight further for good causes.”
I appreciate your courage and concern in fighting aggressively for farmers' loan waiver and reservation for Patidar community.
I urge you to stop the hunger strike immediately as your services are needed for this country to fight further for good causes. pic.twitter.com/c1ECxeiOZe
— H D Devegowda (@H_D_Devegowda) September 3, 2018
Several such requests have flooded the state cabinet, from Congress’ national spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal of AAP, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and Samajwadi Party (SP) President Akhilesh Yadav.
“Hardik is fighting for farmers. His fight is for the betterment of Gujarat and its people. It is very unfortunate that the state government is not even ready to talk to him. I urge the government to establish a dialogue with Hardik and try to make him end his fast as soon as possible,” Gohil said in an interview with the Times of India.
— Hardik Patel (@HardikPatel_) September 3, 2018
Besides unanimous support from his own party Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), support has poured in from several regional parties like the TMC, RJD and NCP. Dalit leader and Independent MLA Jignesh Mevani also visited Patel and expressed support the same day, PTI reported.
The will is made
On September 2, Hardik released his last will and testament, distributing his inheritance among his family and 14 other families who lost their kin to the agitation in 2015. “Hardik Patel has expressed his wish to donate his eyes in case of his death,” said a PAAS spokesperson.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.