Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Patel Movement - Linked to growing anti-Quota sentiment across India

“A Patel student who secures 90 percent, fails to get admission in medical or engineering courses... But a reserved category student with just 45 percent marks walks in” – Hardik Patel.
22-year-old Hardik: Igniting a Mutiny
Sharad Yadav is one politician who needs to be listened to carefully. From Saharsa, interiors of Bihar, Sharad Yadav chose to disapprove of the agitation by the Patels and Patidar community in Gujarat for reservation. "The agitation by the Patel and Patidar caste men is unjustified and wrong as this community has been quite well off," he said striking a significant break from the line of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who had supported the movement in Gujarat, the backyards of PM Narendra Modi.

There’s a sense of crisis haunting Narendra Modi for the first time since he has successfully negotiated the hurdles of ‘pseudo-secularism’ (or my favourite terminology SICKULAIRSM) vis-à-vis the story of 2002. A mere 22-year-old Hardik Patel has taken away his sleep – even those miniscule 2-3 hours as he had shared with friend “Barack” (President Obama) last January.  
Did Modi not anticipate such a crisis clouding over in his own home state – when the Prime Minister was going global and trying to redraw the road map of international polity? If the massive crowd that gathered in Ahmedabad without his intelligence agencies giving him the leads, he needs to pull up sleeves and get some heads roll.

If its Modi-Sarkar: He should have few answers
What was the super-cop, super-intelligent man – getting daily feedbacks – Ajit Doval doing all these weeks? ‘Hardik Patel’ as a phenomenon is just two-three-months creation!
Prior to 2014 general elections – it was also given to understand that Narendra Modi has a network of his all ‘survey men’ and ‘intelligence network’. So what’s this Patels – or Patidar stir all about? The massive crowd turnout has raised doubts about the force behind the entire exercise. 

Is it the handiwork of RSS and VHP, once a very powerful organisation in Gujarat, who are just not happy about Modi's style of functioning? Or is it just a master strategy to end reservation once and for all and as a RSS man Modi clandestinely approves this?

There's a tiger in the room!!
None other than Modi himself is aware of the peculiar strength of socio-political game ball in his own state. He has been always “sensitive” to this peculiarity and as Chief Minister has always addressed the issues of regional sentiments of Gujaratis along with their religious bigotry. This was my on-ground experience during 2002 and aftermath. Therefore, in my first book, ‘Godhra – A Journey to Mayhem’ I could conclude rather convincingly: “he (Modi) has reasons that every time he opens (now read opened) his mouth in public – he does not forget to mention about the “pride” of the five crore Gujaratis”. This jumped to six crore Gujaratis and by circa 2015, Modi has estimated the numbers – 125 crore Indians.
Before we take a closer view on what are the factors those led to Patels’ stir and what could be the possible implications, it would be prudent to examine the socio-economic and historical background of the community.
Though, I am ardent follower of Gujarat polity since 2002, my knowledge about the people and especially their complex behavior and understanding is very limited. One version says, Patidar means "owner of land". ‘PATI’ means land and ‘DAR’ means the person who owns it. 
In Mehamdavad, Kheda district, around 1700.A.D., the ruler of Gujarat, Mohammed Begdo, selected the best farmer from each village and gave them land for cultivation. In return, the Patidar would pay the ruler a fixed income for a certain period of time, after which, the Patidar would acquire the ownership of the land. The Patidars would hire a hard working and knowledgeable work force to cultivate the land and in due course of time, they would become the owners of the land. These Patidars were from then onwards identified as Patel Patidars.

Here’s one minor example of complexity, in December 2002 polls, in Saurashtra region, where Hindu polarization was said to be minimal and Patels were said to be annoyed with the saffron party for dumping Keshubhai Patel, the BJP maintained its dominance bagging 37 of 52 seats. In 2012, Keshubhai Patel floated his party to uphold the prestige of his community, yet people overwhelmingly voted for Modi.
Thus, we know religion (or pro-Hindutva line) or even pro-Namo line formed important facets in their psyche  -- something that would be difficult to comprehend in other parts of India.
So, a question comes why Hardik Patel says, “if no quota is given to us, Lotus won’t bloom in 2017”. This threat is serious as aftermath desertion by Patels in Gujarat, Madhavsinh Solanki never struck back and never had Congress any good show either.

Prime Minister has thus rightly appeared on national television appealing for peace and dialogue. A picture of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel placed on a shelf behind him was deliberate and only showed the ‘hurry’ to restore peace.
“It is my appeal to my brothers and sisters that the occasion calls for a single mantra – “peace”. Each and every issue can be resolved through talks.  We all should follow the spirit of democracy. We must work together to solve problems through talks and to contribute in efforts to take Gujarat to new heights,” the ‘Gujarat-ka-sher’ told his home crowd.
Even as his trusted aide NSA Ajit Doval was closeted with Home Minister Rajnath Singh and the latter spoke to the Chief Minister Anandiben Patel trying to explore ways to bring things under control, questions are being raised everywhere who all are behind this successful orchestration of Patel power.
“I would not take this movement lightly at all. It appears to have a deep rooted purpose to reach a particular goal not necessarily reservation alone,” says Dinesh Trivedi, a Gujarati himself, but a Trinamool Congress MP from Mamata Banerjee-ruled West Bengal.
Like, Trivedi, many are asking almost similar questions, “is the movement against or in support of BJP”.
Is the agitation anti-Mandal (reservation) cult of politics – where even Muslims can walk away with cash stipends?
Is it just a tip of ice berg of ‘well to do’ Hindu upper caste community’s latent anguish against the Quota raj system pursued rather unreasonably at many quarters by the ‘safe’ player of politics?
Wake up call: Pied Piper
"A Patel student who secures 90 percent, fails to get admission in medical or engineering courses... But a reserved category student with just 45 percent marks walks in... If we are not given our dues, then we shall snatch it,” Hardik Patel has threatened.

Politicians are either playing cards close to chest or at best playing safe. The Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, a former BJP president, refused to field questions on the same at a press conference and merely said, “Prime Minister has already made an appeal and that should be sufficient”.
Dinesh Trivedi, with the sharpness of a Gujarati mind has caught the bull by its horns. “Hardik Patel’s message was loud and clear – either you scrap the entire reservation policy or give us also the same opportunity,” he wrote in The Indian Express.
Even others feel, the movement is “gaining support” of the upper castes even in states like West Bengal and northeastern states and other parts of India – where a large section of people -- upper caste Hindus - feel that their children in spite of being meritorious but being poor, do not stand a chance in getting admission in colleges or government jobs.
“Is it the beginning of the clash of so called civilisation? Are we to see clashes on the streets?,” asks Trivedi. I am hardly a fan of Dinesh Trivedi, but the fellow has his reasons. 

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