Ahmedabad: The Patels have for decades been loyal supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party, but their recent agitation has now put the economically and socially strong community at loggerheads with the ruling party.
The Patel community, a strong vote bank of BJP, has been agitating for around a month demanding reservation under the Other Backward Class (OBC) status.
Hardik Patel, the 22-year-old leader of the Patel community and Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti convenor, is spearheading the community's quota agitation.
In a stern message to the Gujarat government, the Patel community held a massive rally in Ahmedabad on Tuesday to press for their demand for OBC status and warned that the BJP will not be able to return to power in 2017 if they are not given reservation.
Hardik Patel, who has imparted momentum and virulence to the struggle, was briefly detained yesterday. But the young leader's detention late in the evening led to an immediate backlash, as protesters gathered in large numbers at various cross-roads and attacked the police, pelted stones and set on fire public properties, including buses at two places.
Hardik Patel was soon released by the Ahmedabad police after violence over his detention spread.
The 22-year-old has called for a state-wide bandh today to intensify the agitation.
The Gujarat Government has categorically ruled out the possibility of placing the Patel community in the reservation category.
In a recent bullet point advertisement, the state government had said the 1992 Supreme Court verdict limits reservation provision only up to 50 percent in any state.
According to advertisement, Gujarat has 27 percent reservation for OBCs and 15 percent and 7 percent for STs and SCs respectively.