Former Chief Minister and important Patidar leader, Keshubhai Patel, has maintained silence after Patidar Anamat Anadolan Smiti (PAAS) convener Hardik Patel met him on the issue of Patel community’s demand for reservation.
Hardik Patel’s surprise visit to Keshubhai at latter’s residence on Monday got fixed just after five days of his returning from the US. The meeting was arranged in the morning through PAAS core committee member Chirag Patel.
Chirag is a former worker of Keshubhai’ Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP), which was formed to counter Narendra Modi in 2012 assembly elections.
“I have met them. I have nothing more to say”, Keshubhai Patel said to The Indian Express.
The meeting between 85-year-old Keshubhai and Hardik, that happened hours before PAAS core team meeting with Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel over alleged police atrocity on the community members, brought this bete noire of Narendra Modi back into current political equations from oblivion.
However, Keshubhai maintained his style of maintaining silence, which he did for nearly 10 years after his unceremonious removal in 2001, to pave the way for Narendra Modi’s Chief Ministership. His silence was broken only during the 2012 assembly elections but soon after the defeat he again slipped into oblivion.
In ‘blessings’ extended to Hardik and his team, Keshubhai Patel wished their agitation a success but advised not to resort to violent ways.
Hardik Patel said, “I met him only to get blessings as an elderly member from the community and there was no political agenda to it.”
He added,” Keshubhai has extended his blessings but asked not to opt violent ways”.
But with Keshubhai, affectionately known as Bapa, having fought an intense campaign with support of Saurashtra Patidars against Modi, the meeting with PAAS before the crucial meeting with CM Anandiben gave political touch to the agitation that so far has been devoid of any political colour.
“PAAS members Chirag and Alpesh Patel first approached us on Sunday evening, but we couldn’t fix the meeting then. It was decided only on Monday morning just before their arrival”, said a source from very close circle of Keshubhai.
With only two GPP members including Keshubhai, could manage to win in 2012 assembly elections, the party merged with the BJP in 2013. Keshubhai, however, opted for retirement by even resigning as MLA. His son, Bharat later contested by-election from his Visavadar seat on BJP ticket, which he lost.
Sources said Bapa was approached by some Patel leaders from North Gujarat to take the lead in OBC agitation couple of years back, but he was not in favour of an agitation.
After political retirement, Keshubhai to treat his knee related problems has been spending quite a good time in the US with one of his sons.
He was in the US since two months and had returned five days back after his another son, Ashok was hospitalised in a private hospital at Ahmedabad. On Monday too he visited Ashok after the meeting with Hardik ended.