There might be a lot of rhetoric in Hardik Patel’s plan to disrupt the third one-dayer in the Gandhi-Mandela series of matches to be played at Rajkot Sunday between India and South Africa.
While Hardik Patel has been sending out messages that the protest is against the “BJP using the cricket field to play politics”, there is every possibility that this might turn into a googly ball, or a self goal.
This will probably be the first cricket event facing the threat of being disrupted by a caste crusader. And Rajkot he centre of Saurashtra region is where Hardik sees a lot of potential for his agitation to grow, given its significant presence of Patidars and its readiness for out-of-the-box reactions. But an assault on cricket is probably what it might not tolerate.
The Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leaders have been sending out various messages on dramatic plans to way lay buses carrying cricketers of both teams to the stadium, cordoning the stadium, wearing T-shirts with ‘Jay Sardar, Jay Patidar’ slogans, playing cricket outside the stadium and even walking in “top-less” into the match.
One report even said Hardik planned to dress up as a farmer and sneak into the stadium.
The PAAS Surat unit has already announced that thousands of them will go to Rajkot to protest. Yet there is every likelihood that the security agencies will outnumber them, given that the police plans to deploy over 2000 men, three UAVs and surveillance cameras.
More than actually disrupting the match successfully, the Patidar agitationists might end up in another confrontation with the police. In any case, Hardik’s agenda since the riots of August 25 has taken a detour from the demand for quota to demand for justice against police atrocities. Given that its methods of agitation –chasing away politicians from public venues, lollipop distribution, clanking rolling pins on steel plates – might hit a level of fatigue, this might prove the new provoker.
As for Hardik, who was an avid cricket player as a youngster, and claims to have dreamed of playing with Sachin Tendulkar, he might end up playing a protest match alongside an international ODI.
Both matches promise an exciting finish Sunday.