Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel took an apparent dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday as he walked out of jail after nine months behind bars on sedition charges.
Referring to Modi’s ‘56-inch chest’ remark, the 22-year-old said, “No body, no height...no 56-inch chest (a symbol of courage)...all I want is rights for my community.” He, however, did not name the PM.
Under the law, he cannot enter Gujarat for the next six months and will stay at House No 190 in Shrinath Nagar on the airport road in Udaipur.
In the home state of Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, the seemingly frail Hardik is leading widespread protests by the influential Patidar community demanding reservation in education and jobs.
The Patidars have been the backbone of the BJP vote bank in Gujarat for three decades but the agitation has emerged as a cause for concern for the party, which lost badly in recent local body polls in rural areas.
But despite the sedition charges, Hardik vowed to continue with his stir. “The agitation will continue, but peacefully. We will see what has been given to the society and what more can available.”
With political parties like the Nationalist Congress Party, Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party trying to approach him, Hardik said, “No political party can lay its claim on the agitation.”
Local NCP leaders and a rebel BJP MLA, Nalin Kotadia, were present at the jail when he was released. Several thousand Patidar youngsters from all over Gujarat had arrived in four- and two-wheelers for his welcome.
He mounted on a decorated truck that will lead a rally end at Varaccha, a Patidar-dominated area.