Will Gujarat voters fall for unrealistic Patidar promises?
There is a severe problem of unemployment and that is now being recast as a local Patidar reservation issue. In the absence of formal institutions, you will complain about your joblessness to your clan leader in the village. That is how this group dynamics start to build into a political demand.
In Gujarat, you have third rate higher education institutions like Kamdhenu Vishvavidyalaya, Raksha Shakti Vishvavidyalaya. There are many rural families that will sell their farm land to send their young to these colleges that charge high fees of Rs 4 lakh. But the degree is worth nothing, but you think you graduate and can land high salary jobs.
It is a story of spurious educational institutions that is giving you unreasonable expectations without any understanding of caste, social justice or employment economics. So, the easiest thing to do is demand job reservations.
BJP has politically harnessed and managed upper caste disenchantment in the post-Mandal period, that politics is coming back to haunt the party now. In his 2014 campaign, Modi had the energy of the jobless youth in his bag when he gave the “kalam ki rajneeti” slogan. Not anymore.
If Hardik Patel can help deliver even 75 seats for the Congress in Gujarat, he will become a big leader to reckon with.
Modi gave a promise of jobs that he has not been able to fulfil. Congress too is promising Patidar reservations in Gujarat that it won’t be able to implement.
With this promise, if Congress manages to dent the BJP, it will sit in the opposition inside the assembly, and Hardik Patel will be the agitation master outside and keep the agitation alive. There is no burden of implementation on anyone.
This also sets a very dangerous precedent for more upper caste demands. That is why Rahul Gandhi being a janev dhari is a key Brahmin signalling. It is a very slippery slope.
When you sell land, and pay such high college fee, the language of the youth will be very different. These low quality private colleges, sometimes run by hoteliers, have mushroomed across Gujarat. It brought money for local politicians, farmers had a place to send their children to, and now it has produced youth that are demanding quotas.
Manisha Priyam is an associate professor, National University for Educational Planning and Administration
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