Hardik Patel, the
28-year-old Patidar leader who came into prominence in 2015 for leading an
agitation seeking Other Backward Classes (OBC) quota for the Patidar community,
once saw his future in the Congress, India’s grand old party. Now, over three years
and a bitter feud, Patel is set to join Congress’ biggest rival, and the
ruling party at the Centre and in Gujarat – the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Patel is said to have confirmed his decision to join the Prime Minister to news
agency ANI.

“It is confirmed
that Hardik Patel will join the BJP on June 2 in the presence of state
president CR Paatil,” BJP’s state president Yagnesh Dave told PTI.

From whence
he came

Born in Gujarat to
a Patidar family on July 20, 1993, Hardik Patel did some of his schooling from
Divya Jyot School in Viramgram, a small municipality town in Ahmedabad
district. He later went on to KB Shah Vinay Mandir where he studied from
standard 9 to standard 12.

Also Read | Ahead of Gujarat elections, Hardik Patel to join BJP on June 2

A cricket
enthusiast, Patel did not come from a lot of money. After finishing higher
secondary schooling, he joined his father in a small business installing
submersible pumps. His first brush with politics came through his father who
had an association with the Congress.

A youth
leader rises

Hardik Patel got
imbued in politics when he joined Sahajanand College in 2010. Elected unopposed
to the post of college general secretary, Patel finished his bachelors in
commerce and sought a future in activism. In 2012, he joined the Patidar youth body
called Sardar Patel Group (SPG) and soon became the president of its Viragram

The Patidar

Media reports say
Hardik Patel became involved with the Patidar movement after his sister, Monica,
did not qualify for a state government scholarship. However, her friend,
qualified for the scholarship, through the OBC quota. He felt affirmative action
that were helping other castes should also come to the aid of the Patidar

Patel formed the
Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, a self-declared apolitical organisation, to
demand the inclusion of the Patidar community in OBC list.

The Patidar
agitation started July 2015 through several rallies across Gujarat. On August
25, 2015, he sat on a hunger strike that led him to be arrested for a while by
at Ahmedabad City Police. A violent agitation ensued. The government of Gujarat
had to call in the Indian Army to quell protests.

Politics plunge 

It was ahead of the 2017 Gujarat Assembly elections when Hardik Patel decided to support the Congress in its electoral bid. But it was only in 2019, when he finally joined the party. He was unable to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections because of his conviction in a rioting offence. 

Recently, however, he began asserting his differences with the party and accused state Congress leaders of sidelining him. He eventually quit the party and is said to be joining the BJP on June 2, according to media reports.