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Hardik Patel: Sex video fake… even if I was in it, can’t a 23-year-old have girlfriends?

Patidar leader Hardik Patel says the video won’t harm his movement as he describes the Gujarat Assembly Election battle as BJP vs Hardik Patel.

Written by Aditi Raja |
Updated: November 18, 2017 10:00:14 am
Sex tape is fake says hardik patel A supporter welcomes Hardik Patel to Sarbhan village of Bharuch, where he addressed a public meeting Tuesday. (Express Photo: Bhupendra Rana)

It was only a day after the surfacing of an alleged sex video, in which the man shown was purported to be Hardik Patel, that the Patidar leader arrived in Sarbhan village of Bharuch for a campaign with residents of 10 villages. He was put at ease immediately as women supporters welcomed him with tilak, after which he delivered a confident, 33-minute speech in which he urged voters to “overthrow the Hitlershahi BJP”.

Although 23 and too young to contest, Hardik has been the target of three video campaigns and the centre of attention: TV channels kept calling him for a live debate while supporters kept inviting him to rallies. He was confident enough to launch his campaign from Sarbhan, whose 40% ST population outnumbers Patidars, “because Hardik Patel is no longer a leader only of the Patels. He is a leader of all communities.”

Excerpts from an interview in his SUV, after his speech:

Will these videos harm your plans?

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From the support you see this evening, do you think the videos have harmed the agitation? They cannot. They are a desperate attempt by the BJP to cover up for their shortcomings. They could not break me, could not threaten me, or blackmail me to back off, so they had to create videos of a 23-year-old to character-assassinate him.

Since these videos have emerged, two statements have been attributed to you. One, that you are “an unmarried man, and not impotent”; two, that the video was fake. Which one is your stand?

Those sitting in power will say it is my video. But I am saying that the video is morphed. Had they done a sting operation on me with my fiancée in a hotel room, I would have accepted it. These are videos that have been created with a man who resembles me. I have already sent the video for forensic examination to some of our community members abroad and they have sent me an analysis that proves it was fake [shows a purported report on his mobile]… However, even if we assume that I was immoral as some people say, and that it was indeed I in the video, I want to ask, can’t a 23-year-old youth have girlfriends? If a 23-year-old cannot have girlfriends, will a 50-year-old have girlfriends?

… Atal Bihari Vajpayee once said he isn’t married but he is not a sanyasi either… An elected BJP member was caught molesting a girl and [sexually assaulting] her in a moving bus but they don’t talk about it… This is not a BJP vs Congress fight. It is BJP vs Hardik.

Are you planning legal action?

The police are theirs, the system is theirs. What will I get by going for legal action? I have no faith in the system in a BJP-administered state. I have gone through a lot of legal processes [following the sedition case], I know how it works. Also, in the world of politics, you have to be thick-skinned and also a neech (lowlife) to bear all this and remain silent… Let me tell you, I have become very neech.

How do you see your electoral role, a kingmaker or disruptive element?

No, I am not a kingmaker. I am only playing the role of an agent of the people who amplifies their voice. I have an agenda. But it is the agenda of the people facing injustice… It is a long fight. I have no political ambition right now; I don’t want to be an MP or MLA.

Hardik Patel targets Narendra Modi

You are now underage for contesting polls; what happens two years on?

I do not plan the future… my future is uncertain. These people whom I am fighting are bad people; they can do anything to me… Everything has a time. So when the time comes, depending on the situation, I will give it [politics] a thought.

Patidar religious groups came together recently to form a group against you; your closest aides Varun Patel and Reshma Patel have joined the BJP.

It has not affected me. I have held mega rallies after that. It has only increased my strength. Shouldn’t the sex video have hurt the way I function more than the exit of Varun and Reshma or the Patidar groups created by the BJP?

Doesn’t the fact that you are asking people to vote against the BJP, besides meeting Congress leaders, make it an appeal for votes to the Congress?

If it seems so, let it be so. It does not matter. If people think it is right to vote for the Congress because the vote has to be against the BJP, then that is good.

At what stage is your discussion with Congress over reservation?

We have accepted the Congress formula after they examined the constitutional possibility of reservation, but we are yet to seal the deal. They have accepted our demands, which is good. Even so, I am not telling people directly to vote for the Congress… I can vote for the Congress personally; so can many others.

After nine months in jail over sedition cases, you are back leading the agitation. How do you look back at your progress?

I have been told by a learned person that what is happening is not orchestrated by me. Nor has it been done by my enemies. It is destiny taking its course…

Hardik Patel, Gujarat Assembly Elections 2017, Hardik Patel attacks BJP, Patidar community influence on upcoming elections, Patidar community, Hardik Patel on reservations, Hardik Patel election campaign, gujarat news, indian express news Bhavnagar: PAAS convener Hardik Patel during a road show in Bhavnagar on Sunday. PTI Photo

Anna Hazare’s Lokpal movement led to AAP being formed. Do you foresee the Patidar agitation heading the same way?

This is an entirely different fight. Those were agitations seeking political change; ours is an agitation for equal rights in education and employment. No doubt, most agitations have a political colour… or it turns into a party. It will happen here too; there may be political leaders who will emerge from this agitation.

There has been talk that you have sought assembly tickets from the Congress.

It is entirely false.

The Patels are traditionally BJP voters; do you expect them to vote against it?

During the 2015 local body and district panchayat polls, I was in jail… But [Patidars] did not vote for the BJP. This time I am out in the open, telling them they must not vote for the BJP. The Patidars have a mind of their own… The BJP is aware of this. That is why they are being forced to make sleaze videos of a 23-year-old bachcha.

Your parents have announced your engagement with a girl named Kinjal. How has she reacted?

We are not engaged yet, let me clarify this. My parents had said that if Hardik and the family are happy with this decision, then we will go with it. So yes, we are happy and it will happen when it has to happen. As for her reaction, she is stronger than I.

How have your parents reacted?

I have been at home since yesterday. Of course, they support me. Why else do people have children?

The BJP is accusing you, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani of dividing society with caste politics.

The BJP is the one that divides the society deeper. They are the ones who created the maximum number of cells to appease castes within the party – Maldhaari cell, OBC cell, Patidar cell, minority cell, doctor cell…

You have been targeting Anandiben Patel in recent speeches but seem not to have kept it up against Amit Shah, who you used to call General Dyer. Why?

I have been talking about Anandiben for a long time. My father was a BJP member and she used to send him a rakhi until 2010. As for Amit Shah, he is already a broken man. Do I need to break him more? As president of the world’s largest party, he has to visit Naranpura, his former constituency, to distribute pamphlets on a door-to-door campaign. What does that indicate?

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