Ahmedabad: The BJP was instigating clashes between Hindus and Muslims by adopting the “divide and rule” policy of the British Raj for the party’s political advantage, Patel reservation agitation leader Hardik Patel has said.
Mr Hardik Patel said this in a letter sent today to Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel.
The 22-year-old Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convener, who has been leading an agitation for reservation for the Patel community, sent another letter to members of his community to give up the indefinite hunger strike to press for his release from custody.
Mr Patel’s letter to the chief minister, a copy of which was also sent to state BJP president RC Faldu, said his fight was not only to demand reservation in jobs and education but also for the abolition of discrimination between men and women and between rich and poor.
Mr Patel, who has been charged with sedition and is under custody, said members of the community had made sacrifices for the rise of the BJP in Gujarat in the last two decades but now at least 80 of them were serving jail terms since the 2002 communal violence.
He said he was surprised by the chief minister’s recent remarks accusing the agitating Patel members as selfish.
“The BJP has made use of Patel votes and money to come to power. Now that the party has come to power, its government has killed as many as 10 Patel youths and jailed hundreds of us. Don’t be under the illusion that you (Anandiben Patel) will continue to enjoy power for long,” he warned.
“Patels are now united. We are neither the pocket-borough of the BJP nor are agents of the Congress. We will throw out those who have betrayed the community.
“The BJP has still not risen above strife between Hindus and Muslims and between upper castes and lower castes,” he said.
He, however, apologised to the chief minister for “any mistakes” that he might have committed during the pro-reservation agitation.
He said his agitation was a reaction to growing unemployment and poverty in the state.
“There are thousands who are forced to go without food in Gujarat, farmers are being driven to commit suicide, higher education has become exorbitantly expensive. The reservation agitation by the Patel youths was a reaction to all this,” he said.
Mr Hardik Patel said that though the chief minister was herself a Patel, she unleashed police on the Patel youths and sent them to jail. “She is not a Patel,” he said.
By withdrawing some cases against the pro-quota agitators, he said it was like first slapping them on the face and then apologising for the slap.
Meanwhile, Ms Anandiben Patel held a meeting with some of her cabinet colleagues and Patel leaders over reaching an agreement on withdrawing cases against the agitating Patel youths who were still behind bars.