Hardik Patel breaks fast, has lunch with BJP MP

Ahmedabad: Patel agitation spearhead Hardik Patel on Saturday broke his indefinite fast in a Gujarat jail by having lunch with BJP MP Vitthal Radadiya.

Radadiya, the BJP’s member of parliament from Porbander, is trying to broker peace between the Gujarat government and the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS).

Hardik Patel is facing sedition charges and is in judicial custody in a Surat jail for six months.

On February 18, he began an indefinite fast to press for his demand for reservation to his community in government jobs and educational institutions.

Radadiya, a Patel community leader in his own right, told reporters on Saturday: “He has begun taking food by having the tiffin that comes for him when I met him today.”

Radadiya, who has been in talks with the Gujarat government over the vexed Patel issue and evolved a 35-point agenda, said: “I met the chief minister yesterday (Friday) after a meeting with Hardik earlier. I have discussed the 35 points with Hardik.”

He said Hardik Patel was, in principle, agreeable to some of the points.

“Again today, I and Hardik discussed the 35 topics and agreed on 27 issues, including withdrawal of cases against agitating Patels, setting up professional educational institutions where Patel students can get admissions without donations, some issues with regard to farmers and creating jobs,” Radadiya said, adding some of the issues were addressed in the recently presented state budget.

About the chief demand of Hardik Patel for quota, he said, “The issue of reservations or OBC status is a matter of discussion but I am confident that the entire situation would be sorted out in the coming two to three days.”

Hardik Patel has not said anything about it so far.

The last time, when Radadiya met Hardik Patel and announced the truce was likely, the 23-year-old leader had come out and maintained no agreement with the government was possible till the demand for reservation was met.

When contacted after Radadiya’s announcement, PAAS spokesperson Varun Patel reiterated: “He (Radadiya) and Nitinbhai (cabinet minister in Anandiben Patel government) have been promising withdrawal of cases against our brothers for a month-and-a-half now but no action has been taken on that.”

“Unless the government gives us in writing or a commission is formed to look in to demand for reservations to Patels, all the talk is like giving us a lollipop,” the PAAS spokesperson said.