If the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) believes in a “double-engine sarkar”, then its first-time contestant and face of Patel agitation Hardik takes it a step ahead — “the need for a triple-engine sarkar”. “Not just at the state or the Centre, even at the grassroots level such as constituencies, voters should repose their faith in the BJP to get benefits of development,” Hardik Patel said, in an exclusive interview with News18.
From 2015 to 2022 much water has flown by for Patel, who chooses to refrain from the Patidar agitation which caught the imagination of the youth in a big way. He assures unconditional support of the Patel community to the BJP this election. “The entire Patel community, cutting across regions, will rally behind the BJP in the forthcoming elections…It was a divided house then, in 2017, but this election, the whole community across the state is with the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” said Patel.
Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is also testing waters in Gujarat this election, is hopeful to create an impact, but the youth leader refuses to acknowledge their presence on the ground. “There is no impact of a third party in Gujarat. It is election time. Every party has the right to contest and people also hear them out, but it does not mean it gets converted to votes,” said Patel.
Reiterating that he will be the youngest MLA in the Gujarat Vidhan Sabha, Patel said his area of focus would be development work in Viramgam, the constituency from where he is contesting. “There has been a Congress MLA here and in the past 10 years, no development has taken place. When I say triple engine, I mean representatives of the ruling party at all levels,” he said.
You were the face of the Patidar agitation. How is the experience of doing politics with the BJP?
In Gujarat, the elections are not just about Patels. People from every caste are putting their faith in the BJP. This faith is for development and vision. The BJP, especially PM Narendra bhai Modi, has a vision for the country. Why would people go with parties that have no vision? The PM, when he was the CM of Gujarat, did politics with a vision and he has continued that even after becoming the PM… that is why people like him so much.
But you have been in the Congress and praised it and spoke against the BJP… How has it been received by people?
When the decision was taken, the circumstances were different. When I entered politics, I realised that it was wrong… The Congress was against Gujarat’s gaurav and its asmita. I am standing with the PM today to fight for Gujarat’s asmita.
There are many youth wing members of the BJP who had protested against you during the Patidar movement. How did you manage to get them aboard?
There is no problem at all. The BJP was my father’s karmabhoomi. I do not have any problem in understanding the party.
What is the percentage of Patidars in your constituency?
As a candidate, I do not do politics of caste. For me, every caste is important. In the elections, you need to take every caste along and you cannot do politics of just one caste.
What are your promises to voters from your constituency?
All are local issues. The Congress has been there in this constituency for the past 10 years and has harmed Viramgam. There is no development here. I have to get hospital and colleges, water supply in a few areas, etc.
How do you feel when Rahul Gandhi comes here to campaign?
(Laughs) I feel he should come. Whenever he comes, we benefit. Because when people who have no vision for Gujarat speak for the state, they get exposed. People then get to know who they need to go to.
But aren’t your village people upset with you for changing your political party?
Absolutely not, ghar ka ladka hoon. Main hi taklif samajhta hoon. Ghar ka ladka hoon, kaam ka ladka hoon (I am from this village and know its problems. I will work for them).