Hardik Patel, a debacle foretold

Patidar Anamant Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convener Hardik Patel addresses the media in Ahmedabad on Monday.
Patidar Anamant Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convener Hardik Patel addresses the media in Ahmedabad on Monday. | PTI Photo

The Patidar leader’s agenda was perilous and filled with limitations. Hardik Patel joins a list of demagogues in the subcontinent who pick up an ethnic, religious or caste group’s grievance and build it into a persecution complex.

The highlight of the Gujarat elections was the rise of three young leaders. Two, Jignesh Mevani and Alpesh Thakor, are now MLAs. But the third and the most popular, Hardik Patel, failed to deliver.

I had foreseen the perils in his agenda and the limitations of his political talent and potential in this August 2015 piece when his Patel campaign was at its peak:

It is unfortunate how the rise of Hardik Patel has polarised public opinion and the commentariat on the basis of whether or not you like Narendra Modi.

If you like Modi, the Patel agitation is a grand conspiracy hatched by Ahmed Patel or Arvind Kejriwal, or probably both.

If you are against Modi, Hardik Patel is a new revolutionary, as if Bhagat Singh had returned to get India its second freedom, this time from the BJP and Modi.

Both are wrong, and dangerous.

Any issue should be judged on merit. This is a very disruptive agitation with no real demands. There is no possibility of any more reservations, and Patels need that least of all. There is nothing in Hardik Patel’s method, speech or style that justifies hailing him as a rising new voice of social empowerment or democratic politics.

He is a demagogue who flaunts firearms, near-violent rhetoric and harks back to a totally outdated politics. He can be no secular mascot.

At the same time, he is too much of an original to be somebody else’s puppet or plant. Everything about him tells me that he is more like a Patel version of Raj Thackeray. Try imagining Raj Thackeray with a million-strong crowd of supporters.

The subcontinent specialises in producing this very unique brand of demagogue who can pick up a well-defined ethnic, religious or caste group’s real and imagined grievance and build it into a persecution complex.

Among those I have seen are Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Jat leader Mahendra Singh Tikait, Altaf Hussain of the MQM in Pakistan, Gurkha leader Subhash Ghisingh and Gujjar chieftain Col. Kirori Singh Bainsla (retd). They achieved immediate adulation of their masses, but in the end did nothing for them. They only left destruction and violence in their wake before fading away.

I am afraid that is the future I see for young Hardik Patel. So nobody, whether friend or foe of Modi, should see much of a future in him.

11 COMMENTS

  1. You need to look into saurastra region where BJP lost 14 seats of patidar plus hardik has filled only two candidate and both of then won from Congress..in that content hardik is not a looser it just battle turns between urban people to rural people …

  2. Think of Hardik Patel as a wild, unbroken pony. The Congress stable in Gujarat has no thoroughbreds, as the results show. May not be a bad idea to take him inside the tent, with the compromises that would entail on both sides. The Bengal Congresx would have been so much better off if it was being led by Mamata Banerjee.

  3. Well , Shekharji , while there can’t be two opinions of what you said , Congress basking in the reflected glory of the stripling Hardik Patel should be of concern for everybody and the future of India ?

  4. Think of a raj thackrey with a million followers? Raj already has bigger following. You should note that followership doesn’t always result in votes because there are other issues than narrow interests.

  5. Patel do not need any reservation. I feel that Patidhar Agitation is unwanted and should not be encouraged by any political party.

  6. Allowing reservation to people with annual upto Rs 8 lakhs is highly regressive.It is disturbing that there is no voice from within the section itself who are getting affected by this.Reservation tool needs much more scientic aproach to get optimum result.

  7. Patels are one of the richest communities around. Demanding reservation is shameful for them. Rightminded Patels should come forward and boycott this Hardik Patel who is playing politics over dignity of Patels.

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