The leaders of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) have decided to go on an indefinite fast in all the district headquarters of Gujarat from the first week of the new year in order to put pressure on the State Government to the release 22-year-old jailed PAAS convener Hardik Patel.
“We are planning to go on an indefinite fast from January 6. Office bearers of all the district units of PAAS will join the agitation,” said a PAAS leader. Hardik’s father Bharat Patel too will fast and family members of other jailed Patidar agitators will be joining him at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar.
The agitating PAAS leaders believe that even if Hardik and other jailed Patidar leaders would not be acquitted, they can be brought out of jail on bail. “But the State Government want them to be in jail,” said a PAAS agitator.
Hardik, his close aide Chirag Patel, Dinesh Bambhania, Ketan Patel and many other Patidar agitators are in jail on sedition charges and other cases since October this year. According sources in PAAS, the jailed Patidar agitators too joined them in fast agitation staying inside the prison.
Meanwhile, the Opposition Congress has also decided to join the bandwagon by organising a rally on January 5 for the same purpose. Buoyant over the recent success in the panchayat polls, the Congress is obviously planning to make a bigger dent in the traditional BJP vote bank by wooing Patidars.
“We couldn’t perform well if Patidars had not given us votes wholeheartedly in the panchayat elections,” said a senior Congress leader, adding that in the rally the Congress would ensure its support to jailed Patidar leaders who have been put behind the bars by the BJP-ruled State Government. According to him, the party would stick to its agenda of giving reservation to those who are financially weaker in upper castes.
During the recently-concluded polls of the local self-Government bodies the Congress had offered a ticket to Hardik’s father. Bharat Patel politely denied contesting polls but extended support to the Opposition party.