Gandhinagar : A political time-bomb of sorts began ticking in Gujarat on Friday when fasting patidar quota stir leader, Hardik Patel was rushed to hospital after he complained of breathlessness and report of supportive protest demonstrations poured in from Morbi, Amreli and Botad in Saurashtra region, the cradle of farmer unrest in Gujarat.
Though a sense of bravado marked the official reaction of the Vijay Rupani led BJP government in the state, the ‘posturing’ was in sharp contrast to the hawk-like vigil that the state officialdom has been asked to maintain.
Gujarat minister Saurabh Patel stated on friday that politics in the name of caste goupings (Samaj) must end, but chief minister Vjiay Rupani who leaves for Delhi to attend his party’s national two-day meet has already put in place a three minister informal panel to deal with the situation. The three ministers – Kaushik Patel,Bhupendrasinh Chudasama and Pradipsinh Jadeja – had recently held a meeting with representatives of six patidar organisation.
An underlying thread of tension runs strong, both within the ruling political establishment as well as without over the fall-out of the indefinite fast which has entered the 14th day, with Hardik even giving up water over the last 24 hours.
Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convenor and close Hardik aide, Manoj Panara said that PAAS leaders present at the spot decided to shift Hardik to hospital against his wish, after we saw him lose consciousness. “His protest continues and he will not consume either water or food,” Panara said.
Attending doctors at the Ahmedabad government hospital at Sola said that he was being medicated intraveneously in view of his rapidly deteriorating health indices.
He, however, remained defiant stating from hospital that the BJP government is ignoring the demands of the farmers and the patidars at it’s own peril. The government for its part has largely maintained a stiff upper lip on the stir, only responding once in the last fortnight with the state Industries minister terming the agitation as Congress-led. For all its abrasive exterior, people within the ruling party and government have been burning midnight oil in a bid to persuade the patel community big-wigs to intervene to call off the fast.
The government concern was evident when a team of ten doctors was put on the job – including a nephrologist – to attend to Hardik. His blood and urine samples are being checked to gauge the impact on his kidney, liver as well as other organs. He has lost 20 kg weight in the course of his fast and there are reports to damage to his kidneys. Ironically it is the same government which has charged the 25 year old firebrand youth leader with sedition.
Earlier in the day, Naresh Patel, heading the Khodaldham trust, an umbrella religious body of the patidar community, met him at the venue of his fast and urged him to give up his protest. “His health is of great importance to us and I have assured him that ours as well as other religious bodies shall all come together to initiated talks with the government to get our issues resolved,” Naresh Patel told mediapersons after meeting Hardik.
Earlier, leaders of six organisations of the patidar community sought to mediate and open a dialogue with the government but PAAS rejected their overtures but have given the nod to Nareh Patel’s initiative.