Prashant Dayal, Ahmedabad: Nothing is permanent in politics, whether it is friendship or enmity. Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti convener and community leader Hardik Patel, who had in the 2017 assembly elections in Gujarat rallied for the removal of BJP from the state government, might just switch sides and help BJP in the upcoming general elections in 2019, albeit from behind the scenes. If sources are to be believed, Hardik might join forces with veteran political leader Shankersinh Vaghela to form a third front in the state with Sharad Pawar’s NCP. Patel is might make an official announcement regarding the same soon. Hardik had travelled to the corners of the state campaigning for the Congress in the Vidhan Sabha elections.

Shankersinh Vaghela, who joined hands with the Congress before the polls in 2017, would criticize the BJP in public, but his behaviour says something else. He is actually the B team of the BJP, who is in the Congress camp to ensure that the dissenting votes won’t flow towards the Congress. Bapu, as Vaghela is popularly known in the state, has spoken about pulling down the BJP from power in 2019, but history speaks for itself. Every time a third front has come up in the state, it has only benefitted the BJP during the polls. The onus is now upon Bapu to ensure that BJP triumphs in 2019 too, and thus he would soon announce his tie-up with the NCP as a part of the plan.

Bapu, being a good political bargainer, is seeking six seats in Gujarat for his services. If the third front is to get six seats in Gujarat, Congress would be six seats lesser in the state and had refused to give these seats to the third front. But BJP is also aware of the fact that Bapu has over the years lost his political charm in the state and his support won’t be enough to control the damage in the BJP camp. The saffron party is seeking someone who could divide the votes in the Congress, for which they have now selected Patidar leader Hardik Patel. The young leader has already met several leaders of the third front. But he would obviously deny the same in public, just like he did about his meeting with Rahul Gandhi in Ahmedabad some time back.

The Congress had in 2017 reached out to Hardik Patel to dismantle the BJP in the state. Patel had in return asked Congress for tickets to contest elections for people selected by him from the community, which the grand old party abided with no qualms. But Hardik’s demands kept on increasing as he asked for 12 tickets for his candidates in the Madhya Pradesh elections. But this time, the Congress refused to play ball. Hardik now seems to be in a mood to get even with the party as he had also lost several confidantes after he had voiced his support for the Congress.

According to the game plan of Hardik and Bapu, both would ridicule the BJP in public but would field candidates in the upcoming polls and thus bleed the Congress of votes. Though Hardik or Bapu have not acknowledged their relationship, it is now nothing short of an open secret. Hardik would soon shift out of his current residence at Greenwoods on SG Highway to a bungalow in Sector 19, Gandhinagar. The bungalow is being cleaned as the nameplate would be soon changed from Bharatsinh Vaghela to Chattrapati Nivas.

This move by Hardik might not go down well with his supporters and the Patidar community. But if one might look back at history, several political leaders had got themselves a place in the government in a similar fashion during the Navnirman Movement. Every time an agitation is flagged off, its youth leaders have bonafide intentions, but soon couldn’t keep themselves away from the greed for fame and benefits of it. Maybe Hardik too fell for it.

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