Patel quota stir leader Hardik Patel said on Saturday he and his supporters had bought tickets for the India-South Africa ODI match to be held in Rajkot and would go to the stadium to tell the world their views “in a peaceful manner”.
“We are just going there to show the entire world what the demands of Patels are. We have no intention to sabotage or obstruct the match,” Patel told a news conference.
“If we play any part in the stoppage of the game, then the administration must use the law against us,” he added. Patel, 22, said they would continue their protest outside the stadium if they are not allowed to enter the ground.
The leader of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) has scrambled for support in recent weeks as his movement for Patel quota has lost steam in the Gujarat.
Several leaders of the community are demanding reservation for Patels in government jobs and educational institutions across Gujarat by including the dominant community in the other backward class (OBC) category.
A wealthy business community, the Patels account for 12-15% of Gujarat’s population who in recent decades have lagged behind, especially on education indices. The protests initially threatened to destabilise the state government but have largely fizzled out in Gujarat.
The Patidar satrap recently announced his new outfit — the Akhil Bhartiya Patel Navnirman Sena — taking a cue from one of his political role models, Raj Thackeray.
The Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) is on high alert against any disruption of the third ODI between India and South Africa in Rajkot on October 18. The SCA took the decision earlier after Rajkot papers quoted sources close to Patel as saying that they would buy 10,000 tickets for the match and carry out protests there.
On Saturday, Patel said: “During the match, we all will turn out at the stadium wearing white t-shirts that will have the logo of PAAS. Though placards won’t be allowed inside the stadium, we will try to somehow sneak some placards inside the stadium on which slogans related to our agitation like Jai Sardar and Jai Patidar will be written. We will not try to stop the match, nor will we cause any sort of interruption during the game.”