Exactly 59 seconds. This is what it took to wrap up the much-touted and much-awaited joining ceremony of once-firebrand Patidar leader Hardik Patel into the BJP on Thursday.
The lad, who once shook the ruling BJP with his first rally attracting a mammoth crowd of 10 lakh in August 2015, had to wait for a frustrating 10 minutes this afternoon for the arrival of Gujarat BJP President CR Paatil and former deputy chief minister Nitin Patel to formally induct him in the party.
The 28-year-old was insisting on a grand welcome in the BJP in presence of national leaders but had to be content with CR Paatil and Nitin Patel, who was once his fierce critic. Even Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel gave the function a miss. There were no speeches either unlike earlier when nine Congress MLAs joined the BJP during the last two years, the last being senior leader Ashvin Kotwal.
Not only this, Paatil and Patel didn’t even wait to join Hardik Patel in his post-joining press conference. While Paatil welcomed him with a saffron scarf and Patel gave him the BJP cap. Hardik presented them with pictures of Bhagvat Geeta and Sardar Patel.
Earlier, Hardik Patel held a 2-km roadshow, which hardly had 500 people. Some miscreants who had gathered outside to throw ink, tomatoes and eggs at Patel were detained by the police.
Patel, who resigned as Gujarat Congress Working President on May 19, claimed at a press conference later that during the next 10 days several Congress MLAs and Patidar leaders would join the BJP.
When asked about his harsh criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Amit Shah, including calling them “fenku” and “goonda”, during his Patidar agitation and if he would apologise for these remarks, he retorted, “Why should I apologise? It was the heat of a public agitation and I was in the Opposition party.”
When pointedly asked what was the deal that he had struck with the BJP and if this included withdrawal of criminal cases against him, Hardik said, “The cases are in the courts. The courts will do their job and the government will do its job.”
About the pending issues of the Patidars, including jobs for family members of 14 Patel youngsters who were killed during his agitation, “I am confident that the Gujarat Government would do justice to them. While this is done, I will make alternative arrangements for them.”
Some of his former colleagues during the time of his Patidar reservation agitation, who had also joined the BJP earlier, were also conspicuous by their absence at the function.