The Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), launched by Hardik Patel in 2015 to demand reservation for the Patidars, appears to be fading. Most of the leading faces of the protest have joined political parties and are exploring how to wind it up.
Last month, after Alpesh Katheriya and Dharmik Malaviya joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Malaviya said they are exploring the option of winding up the organisation. Regarding the current status of PAAS, Malaviya said, “Currently, there is no status. Most people (associated with PAAS) have taken one political stand or another. Around five to seven of us had remained unattached with any political party. Now that we too have joined AAP, we’re thinking of what to do with PAAS.”
He said that they will now try to politically resolve the two demands of PAAS — government or quasi-government jobs for the families of the 14 Patidars killed in the quota agitation, and withdrawal of criminal cases against community members during the agitation.
Reshma Patel, one of the prominent women faces of PAAS, was among the first to leave the organisation and join a political party (BJP). She was joined in the BJP by another senior PAAS member Varun Patel. In these Assembly elections, Reshma Patel may contest from one of constituencies in Saurashtra.
On other hand, Hardik had joined the Congress ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, and was later appointed working president of the Gujarat Congress. However, he quit the party in May this year, and joined the BJP on June 2.
Interestingly, with Varun, Chirag and Hardik all coming from Viramgam region, all three have staked a claim for the Viramgam ticket.
Varun said, “The party should not give tickets to any tainted person or those without any acceptability. If such a situation arises, it will send the wrong message to party workers, not only on that particular seat, but on 25 more seats.” However, Reshma said “people, including Hardik, have sought (BJP) tickets from Viramgam. But I think the BJP will give the ticket to one of its old members from the area. For Hardik, I can only say that he has devalued himself by seeking a ticket from the BJP.”
In a more polite tone, Malaviya described his differences with Hardik. He expressed his dissatisfaction at Hardik’s decision to join the BJP. “We have different ideologies, but we are united in our concern for the welfare of the community.”
Hardik said he had left PAAS a long time ago. “It was handed over to Alpesh Katheriya. What happens with PAAS is now his worry,” he said. Further, about him seeking the BJP ticket from Viramgam, he said, “Naturally, every person demanding a ticket from the party must be doing so from their own Assembly (constituency).”
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