Demand for OBC status: Hardik Patel set to get govt invite for talks after ‘56-inch chest’ reminderhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/demand-for-obc-status-hardik-patel-set-to-get-govt-invite-for-talks-after-56-inch-chest-reminder/

Demand for OBC status: Hardik Patel set to get govt invite for talks after ‘56-inch chest’ reminder

“The government is likely to invite Patidar leader Hardik Patel for talks,” said a minister, who requested anonymity. “This meeting would be held before the August 25 rally.”

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Hardik Patel addresses a gathering in Vadodara on Friday. (Source: Express Photo by Bhupendra Rana)

As the Patidars further mounted pressure on the BJP government for OBC status, Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel called an emergency meeting of her ministers Friday night at her residence, where it was suggested to invite “face of the agitation” Hardik Patel for talks ahead of the community’s rally in Ahmedabad on August 25.

“The government is likely to invite Patidar leader Hardik Patel for talks,” said a minister, who requested anonymity. “This meeting would be held before the August 25 rally.”

In a show of strength, the Patidars on Friday held rallies in Vadodara, Surat and Bharuch districts, with Hardik claiming that they have “56-inch chests” and the power to force the state government to concede to their demand for OBC status and reservation benefits. Hardik’s comment was inspired by the famous “56-inch chest” remark by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

While Hardik led back-to-back rallies in Jhadeshwar (Bharuch) and Vadodara, respectively, the demonstrations in Ankleshwar (Bharuch) and Bardoli (Surat) were organised by other community leaders.

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“Patels in Gujarat have 56-inch chests and know how to make government oblige them on their demands,” said Hardik, leader of the Sardar Patel Group, while addressing around 1.5 lakh people gathered at Navlakhi grounds in Vadodara.

The sloganeering was only an extension of the fiery speech by Hardik, who made it clear that the Patel community would not relent till the state government agreed to their demand.

“Either the government grants us reservation or discontinues the entire concept of reservation. There is no other option. Until that time, our agitation will continue. We are now walking the path of Mahatma Gandhi, but if needed, we will resort to Bhagat Singh’s ways,” he said.

Sending out a warning to the ruling BJP, the 21-year-old said: “It is the power of the Patels of Gujarat that decides the government. In the 1980s, we uprooted the hand of Congress. Now, if our demands are not met, we will overthrow this government too.”