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Kejriwal kickstarts Gujarat campaign

india Updated: Jul 10, 2016 01:07 IST
Hiral Dave
Hiral Dave
Hindustan Times

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal arrives at Rajkot airport during his one day Gujarat visit.(PTI Photo)

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday sounded the poll bugle in Gujarat ahead of the 2017 assembly elections by offering prayers at the historic Somnath temple.

Addressing a 2,000-strong gathering, Kejriwal promised to come back to ‘fight goons’. “The Union government revoked a historic Rs 3 crore crop damage compensation package passed by the AAP government in Delhi. I revoked their order,’’ said the AAP leader.

Kejriwal, who landed in Rajkot with Kumar Vishwas, appealed to the Patidar community and farmers, as the AAP prepares to contest on all 182 seats in the state.

“Hardik Patel was charged with sedition for raising his voice for his Patidar community. But Eknath Khadse, who speaks to Dawood Ibrahim, will not be charged with sedition,” Kejriwal said.

Pointing to Vandana Patel, a member of Hardik’s Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, Kejriwal said, “She spent three months in jail. She was charged with attempt to murder, again for fighting for the community.’’

The Delhi CM opted to have meetings in the coastal belt of Saurashtra, which is a Patidar-dominated region. He blamed chief minister Anandiben Patel for the cancellation of his July 10 meeting with Surat traders. “Organisers, who wanted a solution for heavy taxes, were threatened. I do not understand why Anandiben Patel is scared of us,” he said.

The crowd, consisting of mainly farmers, came from various districts of Saurashtra and central Gujarat. Most of the Saurashtra farmers were mobilised by BJP rebel Kanu Kalsaria, who had successfully got a cement plant scrapped over environmental concerns in the coastal belt.

Before Kejriwal’s arrival, AAP volunteers kept the crowd engaged by comparing the Delhi and Gujarat government models.