Wednesday June 20, 2018
Home India Patel agitati...

Patel agitation: First an explosion, then a whimper

0
//
60
Republish
Reprint

Ahmedabad: Less than four months ago, a 22-year-old from Ahmedabad’s backyard burst on Gujarat’s political horizon like a bolt from the blue with his demand for job quotas for the Patel community. But the agitation that shook the ruling BJP seems to be tottering.

The Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) launched by Hardik Patel, a commerce graduate and son of BJP worker Bharat Patel, caught the imagination of youngsters from his community who thronged his rallies across the state in hundreds of thousands.

And for a state known for peace, 12 people were killed as large-scale violence erupted during a police crackdown on the agitators. Patel wants his community to be included among the Other Backward Classes (OBC) who enjoy 27 percent quota in jobs and educational institutions.

The agitation that shook the Bharatiya Janata Party government now seems to be tottering as quickly as it began, thanks to Hardik Patel’s inability to handle the unexpected power the Patel youth handed over to him. This is besides the re-grouping and consolidation of the OBCs backed by Dalits and tribes who would not part with a share from their quota.

After initial procrastination, the Anandiben Patel government cracked the whip. Hardik Patel faces the law for every mistake he made. These are being attributed to his losing the massive support that he got from July.

The sequence of events, since Chief Minister Anandiben Patel set up a seven-member panel headed by seniormost cabinet minister Nitin Patel and invited the Patel youngsters for talks, tells the story.

First, Hardik Patel and his group did not mention their reservation demand and instead sought action against 4,200 policemen who, they said, had unleashed violence, leaving 12 dead after his Ahmedabad rally.

He wanted Minister of State for Home Rajnikant Patel sacked. Driven to the wall, a confused government sought 10 days’ time.

Then, Patel announced a “reverse” Dandi march from south Gujarat to Gandhinagar to press for the reservation demand.

Anandiben Patel ordered police to clamp prohibitory orders at all places where Hardik Patel and his supporters planned rallies in a bid to crush the agitation.

Hardik Patel kept changing the venue of the ‘yatra’ till the last minute before looking for a safe sanctuary in Surat’s Patel-majority Varachha area. But here too hardly 50 people came. When he ended his speech, police whisked him away with 30 others.

More than the fear of arrest, it was the threat by the newly-formed OBC Ekta Manch to counter the Patels in OBC-dominated 90 villages that unnerved the Patels. The Patidars (Kadwa Patels and Leuva Patels) have a huge population in Surat city but not much outside.

Days later, Hardik Patel organised a rally in Aravali district, some 40 km from Ahmedabad, without seeking police permission. He addressed about 2,000 people and escaped in a cavalcade of cars. On finding police blockades on all roads leading to the highway, he ran through the fields.

Later that night, his supporters claimed he was missing and filed a habeas corpus petition in the Gujarat High Court.

The next day, Hardik Patel told a TV channel that he was kidnapped by plainclothes policemen and left on a highway 100 km from Ahmedabad. He and his lawyer were pulled up by the court for taking it for a ride.

On October 4, Patel made his controversial remarks that “courageous Patels” should kill a policeman or two instead of committing suicide. For this, Patel now faces a sedition charge.

Subsequently, he threatened to disrupt the India-South Africa one-day cricket match in Rajkot by mobilizing 50,000 people. Hardly 50 gathered, and they were rounded up much before the match began.

Here, he was charged with insulting the national flag which he held upside down before he was picked up by police.

During all these events, there was no public outburst or gathering in his support — unlike at the August 26 Ahmedabad rally.

But the government is not writing off Hardik Patel, as is evident from its desire to put off elections to over 300 local self-government bodies.

The government has also announced it would initiate steps to empower the economically weaker sections (EWS) from all communities, including Patels, set up an autonomous development board for EWS, give scholarships for meritorious students and free-ship in self-finance medical and engineering colleges.

(Darshan Desai,IANS)

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2015 NewsGram

Next Story

Come April, government will be more comfortable in Rajya Sabha

Of the 100 BJP-allies MPs, 24 are retiring. Which means, the government will be left with 76 MPs

0
Parliament of India is a source of interest for many people because of various reasons. Wikimedia Commons
Parliament of India is a source of interest for many people because of various reasons. Wikimedia Commons
  • In April, the opposition may lose its edge over BJP in Rajya Sabha
  • NDA led by Modi has faced many embarrassments in Rajya Sabha in past few years
  • This is expected to change soon

Come April, the opposition in the Rajya Sabha may lose its edge in the numbers game and the power to stall any government bill, as the ruling BJP-led NDA coalition is set to catch up with its rivals, though a clear majority will elude them for a while more.

BJP to soon get more comfortable in  Rajya Sabha. Wikimedia commons
BJP to soon get more comfortable in Rajya Sabha. Wikimedia Commons

As 58 MPs, including three Nominated and one Independent, are set to retire in April, the Rajya Sabha math is going to change. It is set to favour the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and the trend may continue in the elections to the Upper House later too with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) having solid majorities in a number of state assemblies, especially the ones it won after the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

With this, while the Congress-led opposition’s numbers will come down to around 115 from the present 123, the numbers of the BJP, its allies and sympathisers together would climb to around 109 from the present 100-odd members.

And the gap, once wide enough to let the opposition invariably have its say, will keep narrowing further in the coming months.

Of the 55 retiring members (excluding those Nominated), 30 belong to the opposition camp while 24 belong to the BJP and allies. Of them, a large number of NDA candidates are set to return while the opposition will lose a chunk of its members.

As things stand now, the Congress-led opposition has 123 MPs (including 54 of the Congress) in a house of 233 elected members (apart from 12 Nominated), while the NDA has 83 members (including 58 of BJP) plus four Independents who support the BJP (these include MPs Rajeev Chandrashekhar, Subhash Chandra, Sanjay Dattatraya Kakade and Amar Singh).

Rajya Sabha or the Upper House can often be a game changer while passing of the bills is in process.
Rajya Sabha or the Upper House can often be a game changer while passing of the bills is in process.

Also, for all practical purposes, the All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), that has 13 members in the Rajya Sabha, is also with the NDA. This means the NDA’s effective strength in the upper house of Parliament is 100.

The gap was wider till just a few months ago. This meant that during any battle between the government and the opposition in the Upper House over bills and major issues, it was the opposition that invariably had its way. The recent example was the triple talaq legislation that the opposition stalled in the upper house, demanding that it be referred to a Select Committee.

For over less than four years, the Narendra Modi government had faced quite a few embarrassments in the Rajya Sabha thanks to the majority of the opposition, forcing it often to take the money bill route to avoid a clash in the house. Under the Constitution, a money bill needs to be passed only in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha cannot stall it.

Also Read: For Modi, Road To 2019 Will Be Steeper

However, after April, the NDA will be in a far better position.

Of the 100 BJP-allies MPs, 24 are retiring. Which means, the government will be left with 76 MPs (including AIADMK). But at least 30 from the NDA are set to get re-elected. So the number will rise to 106. Add three members that the government would nominate to the upper house and the final NDA tally will roughly be 109 MPs.

Further, there are fence-sitters such as the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the YSR Congress, which are not virulently against the BJP and would not oppose the government unless for very compelling reasons.

Now, for the Congress and the rest of the opposition, they are set to lose 30 MPs (including one Independent, A.V. Swamy) through retirement and would be left with around 93 members. The Opposition may win roughly 22 seats, which means that its final tally after April is likely to be around 115 members.

Government can now expect some smooth sailing in the Rajya Sabha, coming this April.
Government can now expect some smooth sailing in the Rajya Sabha, coming this April.

The gap has clearly narrowed and the government may not be at the mercy of the opposition during crucial votes and can have its way in the Rajya Sabha if it musters its numbers by deftly wooing “floater” MPs.

The three newly-elected Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) members may remain equidistant from both the BJP and the Congress, though the party is friendly with some of the major opposition parties like the Trinamool Congress.

Also Read: BJP MP Seeks Amendment to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill

In an interesting development recently, the AAP actively participated in the opposition’s walkout and the day-long boycott of the Rajya Sabha over long intra-day adjournments of the Upper House by Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu.

The AAP, which was not welcome at any opposition meetings earlier, particularly those held in Parliament House, was invited to speak at a joint opposition media interaction on the day. But nobody can be sure as to how long this bonding would last.

Partywise tally of those retiring in April-May from the opposition’s side include 13 from the Congress, six from the Samajwadi Party, three of the Trinamool Congress, two each of the Nationalist Congress Party and Biju Janata Dal and one each of the CPI-M, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha.

NDA has to face many embarrassments in past few years in Rajya Sabha. Wikimedia Commons
NDA has to face many embarrassments in past few years in Rajya Sabha. Wikimedia Commons

From the ruling side, 17 MPs of the BJP, three of the Janata Dal United, one of the Shiv Sena and two of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) are retiring.

In terms of state-wise vacancies to be created in April, the highest number is from Uttar Prdaesh (9), followed by Maharashtra (6), Madhya Pradesh (5), Bihar (5), Gujarat (4), Karnataka (4), West Bengal (4), Rajasthan (3), Odisha (3), Andhra Pradesh (3), Telangana (2), Uttarakhand (1), Himachal Pradesh (1) and Chhattisgarh (1). IANS