In an apparent bid to find a solution to the Patidar reservation issue a day before the community starts its 33-day-long march in Saurashtra, BJP MP Vitthal Radadiya met agitation leader Hardik Patel in Surat jail on Tuesday but PAAS leaders remained firm on mobilising their community again in by embarking on Ekta Yatra beginning from Jamnagar to press for their demand.
Radadiya, the BJP MP from Porbandar and a strong Leuva Patel leader, met Hardik, convenor of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) in Lajpore Central Jail Tuesday, telling media persons that Chief Minister Anandiben Patel had sent him here to mediate between the agitators and the government. Radadiya was accompanied by Hardik’s cousin brother Ravi and another Patidar leader named Mukesh Patel. The meeting lasted for around 25 minutes, sources said.
“Government has responded positively to Jats’ demand for reservation in Haryana. In Gujarat, Patidars’ demand is genuine and they should get it as well. We discussed 35-point charter of demand put forward by Hardik. I am hopeful that Patidars’ demands will be fulfilled by state government within a few days and the agitation will come to an end,” Radadiya said after coming out from the jail.
Elaborating on the charter of demands, Radadiya said that Hardik has sought formation of a special authority for welfare of Patidars, opening schools and colleges for students of Patidar community in all talukas of the state etc.
Later in the day, jail authorities took Hardik Patel to Vishnagar for producing him in a court on Wednesday. “I have great respect for Vitthalbhai and he is our community leader. The agitation will end if he asks us to do so. However, compromise with state government will be done only if it is in the interest of Patidars and not on the terms of state government,” Hardik said while he was being taken out of the jail.
Hardik is facing a series of cases, including those for alleged sedition and has been in jail or in police custody since his arrest in October last year.
But PAAS leaders in Saurashtra said they will go ahead with their Ekta Yatra or unity march as per schedule. “Holding talks with Hardik and try to mediate between agitation leaders and the government is nothing new. Jayrambhai (Vansjaliya) did it but nothing has come out of it. Now Vitthalbhai has done so. We are ready for compromise, but first, these mediators should declare a formula for that. In absence of any such road-map, we shall go ahead with our Ekta Yatra from Wednesday,” said Lalit Vasoya, PAAS convenor for Saurashtra region.
The Ekta Yatra, led by Vasoya will begin from Umiyadham, the temple of Kadva Patel community’s patron deity goddess Umiya in Sidsar village of Jamnagar Wednesday evening. The 33-day-long march will traverse all the 11 districts of Saurashtra before culminating at Kagvad where Leuva Patels are building temple for their patron deity goddess Khodiyar March 27.