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Hardik Patel’s bail: Boon or bane for BJP?

Written by Leena Misra | Updated: July 8, 2016 9:43 pm

Hardik Patel, Hardik Patel bail, Hardik Patel granted bail, Patel quota, Visnagar case, Visnagar case bail application, news, India news, Gujarat news, latest news, news, national news, Hardik Patel case, Hardik Patel bail trial, Patidar community, OBC reservation, Patel OBC reservation, OBC, Patel OBC, OBC quota Patels, Patels OBC quotaSurat: Police produce PAAS convener Hardik Patel at a court in Surat on Saturday. (Source: PTI Photo)

Hardik Patel may walk out of jail days before he turns 23, on July 20. On Friday, the Gujarat High Court granted him bail in the two sedition cases booked against him in Ahmedabad and Surat, one of the conditions being that he should stay out of Gujarat for six months.

Members of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), which had become subdued since his imprisonment in October last year, were on the streets distributing sweets and bursting crackers after the news broke. They were in fact celebrating the clause that exiles their leader from Gujarat, because “it will help him fight for the Patidars across India”, according to a PAAS social media post. Some even compared it to Amit Shah, for whom it is said that he only became stronger in exile, when on bail in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case. Shah was later discharged from the case and went on to lead the BJP.

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  • Gujarat govt withdraws 74 cases against 382 Patels
  • Sedition case: Surat Police oppose Hardik Patel’s bail plea
  • Sudden Hardik storm rattles state BJP, Patel MLAs duck for cover
  • Patidar leadership on a limb as Hardik Patel nears Day 200 in jail on sedition charges
  • Resuming stir for reservation, Patidars to court arrest today
  • Spurred by Jat stir, Gujarat moves to seal deal with Hardik Patel
  • Gujarat govt withdraws 74 cases against 382 Patels
  • Sedition case: Surat Police oppose Hardik Patel’s bail plea
  • Sudden Hardik storm rattles state BJP, Patel MLAs duck for cover
  • Patidar leadership on a limb as Hardik Patel nears Day 200 in jail on sedition charges
  • Resuming stir for reservation, Patidars to court arrest today
  • Spurred by Jat stir, Gujarat moves to seal deal with Hardik Patel
  • Gujarat govt withdraws 74 cases against 382 Patels
  • Sedition case: Surat Police oppose Hardik Patel’s bail plea
  • Sudden Hardik storm rattles state BJP, Patel MLAs duck for cover

While Hardik has two more years to go before he becomes eligible to fight in a general election, the near nine-month jail term has made him a living martyr of sorts, not just among Patidars but also among the youth community, many of whom believe that sedition was too severe a charge on a quota agitation leader. There had been Patidar movements by rebel BJP leaders since 2007, but all of them were aborted during the then chief minister Narendra Modi’s time. This one, however, was different. It had no political leaders, but had succeeded in embarrassing the BJP by forcing it to bend over backwards to please, and declare a 10 per cent EWS quota for upper castes.

Contrary to Hardik, his co-accused in the sedition case, Dinesh Bhambhaniya, Chirag Patel, Ketan Patel, Alpesh Kapetiya and Amrish Patel from PAAS who got bail earlier, have been confined to Gujarat. Geographical and political boundaries are not likely to restrict PAAS, which had built up the first phase of the agitation largely on social media. It is now  preparing to celebrate the anniversary of the mega August 25, 2015 rally which made Hardik famous, in Morbi, as ‘Kranti divas’.

Hardik’s bail in the sedition case has also coincided with the visit of Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convenor Arvind Kejriwal to Gujarat. Kejriwal will be touring Saurashtra on Saturday, and is due to meet farmers in Keshod, Junagadh and Jetalsar, which have substantial Patidar numbers. This is his first tour since he publicly supported Hardik and attacked the BJP for booking him for treason.

Both BJP and the Congress are likely to watch these two events unfolding very closely.

In the event of Hardik and Kejriwal joining hands, the Congress is likely to be more worried because AAP will eat into the Congress pie in Gujarat.

The party had managed to regain lost ground in the local body elections in December last year because of a sympathy wave building up against the Patidar leaders in jail and the anger of the community towards the BJP, and was hoping for more returns in future elections.

That the Patidar agitation had unnerved the BJP was evident from its timing of announcement of the sops. When the sedition case was building up against Hardik, the Anandiben Patel government announced the Mukhyamantri Yuva Swavalambhan Yojana (MYSY) in September last year, and followed up with an announcement of a 10 per cent EWS quota for upper castes in April, coinciding with his co-accused getting bail. The PAAS has called both decisions “lollipops”.

The community now has leverage in the Centre too with PM Modi inducting two Patidar MPs as ministers in the recent reshuffle.

Leaders in the BJP feel that the Patidars should not have any grievance left now, though Hardik has said Friday that he will continue the agitation.

To walk out of jail however, Hardik will have to wait for the verdict on the bail in the Visnagar loot and plunder case against him which comes up for hearing on Monday.

[Source:indianexpress]