Scores of political leaders from different parties, including BJP MP Vitthal Radadiya, have met Patidar quota stir spearhead Hardik Patel following his release from a Surat jail after nearly 10 months of incarceration.
Radadiya, an MP from Porbandar, said his five-minute meeting with Hardik at a guesthouse in Surat on Friday was just to say “hello”. The MP, who belongs to the Patidar community, has acted as mediator between the government and the agitators.
Hardik, who has been cautious about acknowledging AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s open support to him, could not meet the party’s national spokesperson Ashutosh and Gujarat affairs in-charge Gulab Singh Yadav, who reached Ahmedabad especially to welcome the 22-year-old Patidar leader. AAP sources said Hardik did not meet them as his visit to Ahmedabad’s Nikol area got delayed. He was scheduled to reach Ahmedabad past Friday midnight.Earlier, when contacted regarding his meeting with Hardik, Radadiya said: “Yes, we met at the farmhouse of a friend in Surat. It was an informal meeting just to say ‘hi-hello!’ No other issue was discussed. The meeting lasted for about five minutes and Hardik didn’t raise the issue (of reservation). “
The BJP MP, who had earlier met Hardik at Lajpore Central Jail in Surat, said he happened to be in Surat on Friday and decided to meet the quota stir leader. Radadiya had claimed a couple of months ago following his meetings with Hardik that the issue would be resolved soon and the quota stir would come to an end.
Another BJP leader to meet Hardik was Patidar MLA Kumar Kanani, who met him at Varachha in Surat during the Patidar roadshow on Friday. Kanani told “He (Hardik) is hero of the Patidar community. For me the community comes first and then the party. I am not bothered if the party does not give me a ticket next time… I am ready to face whatever action our party high command takes for this. Till now, I have not heard anything.” The MLA has been a supporter of the quota agitation. When Hardik emerged out of Lajpore jail, the first politicians to welcome him were rebel BJP MLA Nalin Kotadiya, who had recently met Kejriwal in Rajkot, and NCP’s Gujarat unit chief Jayant Patel.