Even as the Gujarat government has shown signs of going soft on agitating Patidars, their firebrand leader Hardik Patel on Monday — in an apparent reference to chief minister Anandiben Patel — said that “nobody” can stop his stir.
“The agitation for the OBC status will continue. Even foiba (paternal aunt) cannot stop it,” said Hardik at a Surat court. The 22-year-old leader has been addressing Anandiben as ‘foiba’ since the launch of his stir last year.
“I will continue the agitation whenever I am out of jail. I will either agitate till our demand is met or prefer staying in jail,” added Hardik, who is lodged at a Surat jail since October 18 on charges of sedition.
Hardik’s statement has come at a time when Patidars have intensified their second leg of the agitation. In the last two weeks, the government’s two major annual programmes — Krishi Mahotsav (agriculture festival) and Gunnoatsav (school assessment drive) – were marred by protests.
However, the BJP government softened its stance and now has started a dialogue with them. Having already withdrawn over 70 FIRs against the protesters, the government is now considering dropping over 250 more cases, including those with severe charges.
“The government is reviewing over 250 cases,” said health minister Nitin Patel.
If the negotiation between senior community members and the government is successful, then Hardik may soon walk out of jail.
“There is a high possibility that by month-end most of the arrested protesters, including Hardik, will be granted bail. The government has agreed to drop charges partially, if not totally,” said a Patidar leader.
Family members of jailed PAAS members Chirag, Dinesh and Ketan met Nitin Patel last Saturday. This was the first meeting between the government and the kin of core members of the group.