Ahmedabad: Hardik Patel, the man who led mass agitation in Gujarat demanding quotas for the Patel community, is smitten by none other than Raj Thackeray.
The 22-year-old told the Hindustan Times that the only contemporary leader he respected was Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray.
"I like Raj's power and oratory. His writ doesn't run too much in Mumbai, but he speaks the truth. I can work with him," the daily quoted the leader of the Patidari Anamat Andolan Samiti as saying.
Meanwhile, on Friday, the Shiv Sena hailed Patel as "a hero".
"Until now, (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi was considered the only political 'neta' who could pull crowds," a hard-hitting editorial in the party's mouthpiece "Saamana" said.
"Now, Hardik Patel has become the 'king of crowds' which does not augur well for the BJP," the Sena said, referring to the Patel community leader who has taken on the Gujarat government over job reservations.
"Hardik Patel is a hero of Gujarat... His rallies attract four-five lakh people... With his super-mammoth rally in Ahmedabad last Tuesday, he has thrown the gauntlet at the state government," the Sena said.
Until now, Modi used the name of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, now this had been usurped by Hardik Patel, it said sarcastically.
"The state government committed the misadventure of detaining Hardik Patel after Tuesday's rally and it paid for the blunder... Violence erupted all over the state, even ministers had to bear the brunt of Patidars' ire," the Sena said.
The Shiv Sena, an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the centre and in Maharashtra, urged Gujarat politicians to refrain from stoking political fires in the state "as it would be sheer stupidity".
But the Sena questioned the legitimacy of the Patidars' demands for inclusion in the Other Backward Class (OBC) category, saying the Patels enjoyed the same social-political status in Gujarat as 'Marathas' in Maharashtra.