Will support Nitish Kumar for Bihar elections, says Hardik Patel

Patel quota stir leader Hardik Patel on Saturday said he would support Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in the upcoming Assembly elections in the state as the JD(U) leader belonged to his community.

“Kumar is a good chief minister and belongs to our community. Hence, we will support him in the election,” he said here. Assembly polls in Bihar kick-off next month. The ‘grand alliance’ of JD(U), RJD and Congress is pitted against a coalition of BJP, LJP, RLSP and HAM in Bihar.

In the steel city to participate in ‘Karma Mahotsav’, Hardik also spoke about the quota agitation he is spearheading and vowed to take it to its “logical end”. Following the announcement by Gujarat government of a package for the economically-backward category, Hardik said that what had been offered was a ‘lollipop’ even as he maintained that reservation should be on the basis of caste alone.

Hardik, convener of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), had announced on Friday that he would launch a “lollipop movement” to register displeasure over the package. He, meanwhile, also advocated a review of reservation in the last six decades.

“Review of reservation should be done on development front and not for its abrogation… We should review it for seeing how to develop the communities,” he said. To a query whether he would support reservation for the economically poor, irrespective of caste, Hardik said that quotas should be awarded on the basis of caste.

Asked about the development of Gujarat under the chief ministership of Narendra Modi, he said that the rich had become richer and the poor poorer in the last one-and-a-half decades in the state. Talking about his visit to the steel city, the PAAS convener said he had come to know that the problems of Kurmis were similar to that of his Patel community. Hardik said he supported the Kurmis’ demand for inclusion in the ST category instead of the present OBC.

Asked whether he has any political ambition, Patel said “only time will tell”, but added that, for now, he would motivate the youth of his community to contest elections as Patels did not have adequate representation.

On a query about using page pramukh formula for the local body polls, Jadeja said, “We initiated this concept in the state assembly polls in 2012. It is a good formula which you can use in any polls and for the first time it is being used in local body elections.”

Earlier, the party used to give such responsibility to the booth level workers, but now dedicated workers will be there to campaign for the party among voters listed in a page of voter’s list. The state government had, on September 24, announced the package for the economically backward category irrespective of caste including scholarship for students and age limit relaxation for its jobs.

The ‘Mukhyamantri Yuva Swavlamban Yojna’ (Chief Minister’s Youth Self-Reliance Scheme) will benefit the students, irrespective of caste, whose family income is not more than Rs 4.5 lakh per annum.

However, the package could not satisfy the leader of the Patel agitation seeking reservation under OBC category-Hardik Patel- who dubbed the scheme as “lollipop” and announced that he will continue his movement. Patels, an affluent community of Gujarat, which is believed to be a traditional vote-bank of the BJP, has been agitating against the Gujarat government pressing for their demands for OBC quota.