‘I’ll join politics if people want it’

Patidar Anamat Sanghursh Samiti (PASS) leader Hardik Patel addresses a press conference in New Delh

Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel told Asian Lite’s Sidhartha Dutta that he would join politics ‘if people want’ it

Patidar Anamat Sanghursh Samiti (PASS) leader Hardik Patel addresses a press conference in New Delh
Patidar Anamat Sanghursh Samiti (PASS) leader Hardik Patel addresses a press conference in New Delh

Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel, who announced the formation of a new organisation, Akhil Bharatiya Patel Navnirman Sena (ABPNS) , said that he would join politics “if people want” it.

“When time comes, then we can think about political steps. I cannot decide this alone. The decision will be taken by all of us,” Patel told IANS in an interview here.

Any such decision would take time, Patel said when asked if he would join politics given the fact that even Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal finally took the plunge after trudging the agitational path.

The 22-year-old has been spearheading protests in Gujarat to demand reservations for the Patel community. He announced the formation of his new organisation that is aimed at working for unifying Kurmis, Marathas, Patidar and Gujjar communities and for the “cause of farmers, labourers, women and youth”.

Akhilesh Katiyar, who was earlier with the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) led by Upendra Kushwaha, will be the general secretary of ABPNS, Patel said. Katiyar was expelled from the RLSP after he organised Patel’s first public meeting in Delhi. The RLSP is a member of the BJP-led NDA and shares power at the Centre.

Patel said that in October a rally of Kurmis, Patidars, Gujjars and Marathas from Delhi, Rajasthan and neighbouring states would be held at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi. “We will create awareness among Kurmi brothers and involve them in this organisation,” said Patel.

Asked what was the need for a second organisation when his first outfit was already functioning well in Gujarat, Patel said PAAS was in Gujarat to fight for reservation for the Patel community.

“The Akhil Bhartiya Patel Navnirman Sena has been formed to unite the 27 crore Kurmis, Marathas, Patidar and Gujjars across the country. This is a non-political organisation.”

On the issue of supporting Bihar Chief MInister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal-United during Bihar assembly elections, he said: “We’ll not hold rallies in Bihar favouring any political party. Since Nitish Kumar belongs to our community, we’ll support him. We’ll not support Janata Dal-United.”

Patel also stressed that reservation should be given on the basis of “caste and nothing else”.

He said: “I never said that reservation should be on the basis of economic condition of people. I am fighting for reservation for the development of Patel community and support reservation for Gujjars, Kurmis and other communities.”

“If the Jats contact us, we’ll talk to them,” he added.

Patel said his organisation’s demand includes reservations for Kurmis in Jharkhand, Telangana, Andra Pradesh, Maharashtra and other states. “The Kurmis have assured us that they will support us in every possible way in our movement in Gujarat.”

On the allegations of police abducting him, the Patidar community leader said: “The matter is in the Gujarat High Court, I don’t want to talk about it. Our campaign was going on in Gujarat, but the administration did not give us permission, leading to the tension.”