The mass appeal of Hardik Patel in Gujarat “does not augur well for the BJP”, the Shiv Sena said on Friday, calling him “a hero” who had punctured claims that Gujarat was a peaceful state.
“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.
Now, Hardik Patel has threatened that if the Patidars were also not given job reservations, “then the lotus (BJP party symbol) will not bloom in 2017”.
“The manner in which the Gujarat youths have responded has created waves in Gujarat political circles,” the editorial said.
It thumbed a nose at Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, who had invited Maharashtra businesses to her state, saying Gujarat was “peaceful, stable and well-administered”.
“Now, what?” the Sena asked. “A person who has yet to grow a moustache has proved her claims as bogus… and revealed the true face of Gujarat,” it said about the young Hardik Patel.
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.
The Patels were in the forefront in various sectors like diamonds, realty and big business and also formed a huge chunk of the Gujarat NRIs, trading and commerce, it said.
“They are leading in politics with Chief Minister Anandiben Patel hailing from the community; earlier, Chimanbhai Patel, Keshubhai Patel and Babubhai Patel ruled the state…
“Yet the community wants to become ‘backward’ and takes to the streets.”
The ‘Marathas’ were also powerful similarly in Maharashtra and making various demands, but they never resorted to violence or rioting which can’t be condoned at any cost, the Sena said.