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  India   Politics  28 Sep 2017  Eye on Gujarat polls, BJP woos Patidars, Hardik Patel

Eye on Gujarat polls, BJP woos Patidars, Hardik Patel

THE ASIAN AGE. | NITIN MAHAJAN
Published : Sep 28, 2017, 6:45 am IST
Updated : Sep 28, 2017, 6:45 am IST

Elections for Gujarat’s 182-member strong Assembly is scheduled for December and BJP chief Amit Shah has set a target of winning 150 seats.

Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel. (Photo: PTI/File)
 Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel. (Photo: PTI/File)

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party, not willing to take any chances in the high-stake Gujarat Assembly polls, swung into action on Wednesday to woo the agitating Patidar community and its most prominent leader, 24-year-old Hardik Patel.

The state government, which had initially decided to apply strong-arm tactics against the agitators and their leaders, extended an olive branch on Wednesday by announcing that it will “find ways to withdraw police cases lodged against Patel youth during the reservation agitation.”

 

This is expected to include withdrawing cases against Mr Patel, sources said.

Mr Patel, the leader of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), was charged with sedition in 2015 for allegedly advising Patidar youth to kill policemen instead of committing suicide.

The state government also announced that it would set up a commission for the educational and economic upliftment of the upper castes, and another one on the lines of the OBC Commission, enabling upper castes to petition it for OBC status.

The state government also announced setting up of an investigation committee under a retired high court judge to look into complaints of anyone adversely impacted due to violence in the wake of the Patel quota stir that saw 14 persons losing their lives.

 

Mr Patel welcomed the decisions taken by the state Cabinet, calling it “positive”, but added that it was “not result-oriented.”

Mr Patel has been warming up to the Congress since he launched his agitation in 2015 seeking OBC quota for Patels in college admissions and government jobs. Ahead of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s three-day election tour to Gujarat that ended Wednesday, Mr Patel had welcomed him in a tweet.

The state government had on Tuesday invited the agitating conglomeration of Patidar outfits, including Mr Patel, for talks in Gandhinagar.

The announcement to withdraw cases against agitators comes two days after Mr Patel filed an application in the sessions court seeking discharge from trial of the sedition case against him. He submitted that there is no evidence against him for framing of charges.

 

Sources said that the support of the Patidar community is crucial for the Congress to give a worthy fight to the BJP in the state. Sources added that if the BJP manages to break away Patel, the Congress “would be in no position to pose any threat to the BJP.”

Though the state government and the BJP seem to have begun the exercise of neutralising the Patidar threat, Mr Patel is keeping his options open.

After the announcement, Mr Patel said, “We welcome the decisions taken, but the fight for our main demand, which is reservations, will continue.”

The importance of Gujarat polls can be gauged from the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not merely planning to visit the state every month before the polls, but also decided to invite Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Ahmedabad from where a bullet train to Mumbai is planned.

 

Elections for Gujarat’s 182-member strong Assembly is scheduled for December and BJP chief Amit Shah has set a target of winning 150 seats.

Tags: hardik patel, patidar community, amit shah, gujarat assembly polls
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi