Hey Hardik Patel, this video isn't what economic backwardness looks like
When Hardik Patel burst onto the scene in a blaze of rhetoric and poorly-articulated demands, most people had no clue about the supposed grievances of the Patel community. Now, some two months and a host of public antics later, a lot of people still aren't sure what it's about.
Think 'Patel' and you don't historically see a disenfranchised community, the sort of thing reservation is meant to address. So more than anything else, his call for reservations on economic grounds confuses most.
But if his argument is that the Patels deserve reservation on economic grounds then his recent actions aren't doing much to help his cause. Which is no mean feat, because even though actions speak louder than words, Hardik Patel is a very, very loud man.
His recent actions, however, have managed that.
We're not talking about his use of foreign-made SUVs to get around. That, at least, serves a purpose. Sure he could have gotten around just as easy in smaller, less ostentatious cars, but austerity is Kejriwal's thing, not Hardik's.
No, the incident in question happened when Patel was attending a public gathering at a village in Surat. The event, a folk music function called 'Dayro', witnessed Patel's supporters doing their best strip-club impression - not by dancing, even though, in this case, that may have been the less vulgar choice.
As Hardik made his way onto the stage his followers thronged him, showering him with money.
Lots of money.
If anyone expected Hardik to be embarrassed or at least surprised by this, given his self-annointed role as crusader for the economically backward, you're asking for too much. He isn't.
He greeted the act by pumping his fist like a raver at an EDM concert. Sunburn would have been proud. This went on for a while, with him not batting an eyelid even as the event organiser asked the coterie to stop. But Patel's supporters aren't known for kowtowing to authority, so, of course, it continued a while longer.
If this sort of behaviour doesn't sit well with the concept of economic backwardness - the claim the Patel's reservation cry is based on - prepare to be surprised. According to Dinesh Bambania, one of Patel's close aides, it's a regular practice in Gujarat, one that Hardik has already experienced elsewhere.
The irony that the community's economic woes could probably be tackled by inviting the poorer Patels to these events is clearly lost on this coterie. But then, it seems that Patel's rallying cry is "Do as I say, not as I do". Which is why, with an insensitivity unusual even among India's political class, he continues to call for strikes and disruption of work, leading to more economic loss to the state and eventually the community.
With friends like these, the Patels clearly don't need enemies.