NEW DELHI -- Two days after exhorting his followers to fight with swords, activist Hardik Patel, whose campaign to include the Patidar (Patels) in the category of 'Other Backward Class' has garnered lakhs of supporters, and catapulted him into the national limelight, announced that he plans to carry out a "reverse" Dandi March.
During his civil disobedience movement against British rule in India, Mahatma Gandhi walked almost 400 kilometers from his Sabarmati Ashram on the outskirts of Ahmedabad to the coastal village of Dandi, where he broke the salt law on April 6, 1930.
Following a massive rally on August 25 in Ahmedabad, which ended in violent clashes after Hardik was arrested, the 22-year-old leader plans to launch the second leg of his agitation with a 10-day-long march from Dandi to Ahmedabad starting later this week.
"In coming days, Hardik will kickstart this drive from Ahmedabad. He will give a rose to each Patel MLA of city and politely ask him/her to make his stand (on reservation issue) clear in public. We want to know who are with us," said Dinesh Patel, a member of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, PTI reported.
"The march will be organised on the same route where Dandi march was held. However, our march will be in the reverse direction. Instead of going to Dandi from Ahmedabad, we will start our march from Dandi and arrive at Ahmedabad. As per our tentative schedule, it will be organised on either September 5 or 6," he said.
Hardik's decision to adopt Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent method of agitation comes only a few days after the young leader told his followers to take up swords in pursuit of their goals. "Forget garlands, take out swords," he told a gathering in Delhi on Sunday, The Indian Express reported. "The way to fight here is with swords."
Patel's overnight emergence and audacious criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his own turf has stunned the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in Gujarat as well as the NDA government at the centre.
Hardik has also warned the BJP government in Gujarat of defeat in the 2017 polls if his demands are not met. "Lotus will not bloom in the mud, it will never bloom. If you will talk about our interest then only we will nurture your lotus," the activist said in his rally on August 25.
"A Patidar student with 90% marks does not get admission in an MBBS course, while SC/ST or OBC students get it with 45% marks," he said, last month.