Was Nav Nirman a spontaneous agitation?
Resentment had been building up among the students for a long time. Mess bills in college had skyrocketed. The LD Engineering College students were the first to agitate and were followed by others. The main problem was the soaring prices of edible oil. We all knew that Gujarat was being ruled by the ‘oil kings’ and the Chimanbhai Patel government was getting money from them to finance the UP assembly election of 1974. Was food prices the only issue which sparked off the agitation? Initially it was. But the government was not sympathetic and reacted with lathis and bullets. You remember all those lathi-charges and firings! Had Chimanbhai chosen to negotiate with the students and adopted a sympathetic attitude, we would have responded positively. Further, the political system in the state was poisoned. Chimanbhai’s ‘aya ram gaya ram’ tactics, the Panchvati farm episode where groups of MLAs were kept under near-detention and provided with, well, whatever they demanded, infuriated the peop