FROM THE DIRECTOR'S DESK
NEW DELHI: The agitation that erupted suddenly seems to have subsided as quickly. Patel leader Hardik Patel who after the last big show that unleashed violence in Gujarat has now postponed the Dandi yatra he had scheduled for September 6, Sunday by a week to September 13.
The reason: the government did not give him permission to take out the yatra “The scared government did not give us permission to hold it .But we see this as their defeat and our triumph," Patel told reporters.
But the announcement has raised eyebrows as no one recalls Patel asking the state government for permission for his last rallies. So why now? The question being asked is whether this has something to do with the rapprochement effected between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh during the three day conclave.
Patel is clearly from the right side of the fence, a creature of the extremist right who believes in a majoritarian state with all the RSS frills. In countering PM Modi and the Gujarat government he has taken care to use the same symbols, even as he appeared to be speaheading a huge movement.
This raised questions as to why was supporting the 22 year old with not many politicial leaders believing his “I have risen on my own” assertion. The fact that the postponement of the planned rally has come immediately after the RSS conclave ended with a truce, and promises of cooperation between the government and the mentor, has again raised speculation about the links that have not been confirmed, but remain in the public realm.
Photographs of Patel and Vishwa Hindu Parishad hardliner Pravin Togadia emerged leading the latter to formally distance himself from the young man. Togadia insisted he had nothing to do with Patel, and had met him at one point like he met many others. Patel himself has been attacking both the BJP and the Congress with rumours also linking him to Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal at one point. These were dispelled quickly, apparently rising from the fact that Patel had been the driver for Kejriwal during one of his visits to Gujarat. Or so it is believed.
So in a political landscape now driven by rumours, the postponement of the rally is not being seen as innocent. Patel has declared that he will go ahead with the yatra, with or without permission from the state government. But informed sources said that this is also to give sufficient time to an over-pressed leadership to approach him for talks, and give him a face saving out for the moment at least. However, there has been no word from the central or state governments so far. and it remains to be seen whether Patil has had second thoughts because of 1) direct instructions from the RSS or 2) a dwindling support base that is of course also linked to the last point.
The 22 year old is being attacked on the social media with sex video clips asking whether the protagonist is Hardik Patel being circulated. Not a particularly dynamic personality he has confounded political observers with the dimensions of his success, with the younger lumpen elements of Gujarat swearing allegiance.
September 13 will provide the answers to the questions being raised. And in the process will also give an insight into who Hardik Patel really is, and what he represents.