New Delhi/Gujarat: After spearheading the agitation by the financially and politically influential Patel community in Gujarat for inclusion in the backward-caste category to avail the quota system in the allocation of government jobs and educational opportunities, Hardik Patel arrived in Delhi on Sunday.
During his visit, the 22-year-old leader of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti is likely to meet Jat and Gujjar leaders spearheading agitation for quota for their communities.
ANI, meanwhile, quoted Patel as saying: "We want to take our movement to every part of the nation. I have come to Delhi to make future plan of action."
“Hardikbhai will go to Delhi tomorrow [Sunday] morning and try and meet Jat and Gujjar leaders who are heading agitations for OBC [Other Backward Classes] status for their communities. At 2 pm, he shall hold a press conference at Gurjar Bhavan in Delhi,” his close aide Chirag Patel had told The Hindu yesterday.
When asked who were the Jat and Gujjar leaders, Chirag said: “All that will be clear at the press conference. The Delhi stopover is just a step to coordinating our agitation with all those who are demanding OBC status.”
The Patel community's agitation is the evident failure of the much-vaunted 'Gujarat model' of development which was touted by Narendra Modi as the panacea for the entire country.
At the same time, the Patels or Patidars - the word means the same as zamindars - never experienced social disadvantages. Not surprisingly, they were part of the anti-reservation movements in Gujarat in the late 1970s and early 1980s directed against the Congress-led state government's KHAM vote bank comprising Kshatriyas, Harijans, Adivasis and Muslims.
It is strange, therefore, that the Patels of the Patel-motel fame - they run a large number of roadside hotels across the US - should now want to take a step back into the backward caste category.
Such a regressive outlook is all the more curious because the Patels, like most Gujaratis, are known for their entrepreneurship. For them to seek reservations in government establishments cannot be easily explained when the country has opted for a pro-market economy with its emphasis on the private sector.
The role of the government and the public sector is therefore expected to shrink in the coming years. As such, it makes little point to seek employment in these sectors.
Similarly, seeking admission via reservations in government schools and colleges doesn't make any sense because of the preference of parents now to admit their children in English-medium private schools as these are believed to be better able to prepare the students to face the challenges of a globalized environment.
In a way, the agitation by the Patels for OBC status is similar to the one by the Gujjars of Rajasthan who wanted a relegation from their existing backward caste category to a Scheduled Tribe (ST) classification since the recognition of Jats as OBCs in the state eroded the availability of reserved jobs.
(With Agency inputs)