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Gujarat elections: Don’t forgive BJP for atrocities on Patidars, says Hardik Patel

Speaking at the same venue from where Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani had addressed a section of Patidars on Tuesday, Hardik said the huge crowd “showed who was more popular”.

assembly elections Updated: Nov 29, 2017 23:14 IST
Hiral Dave
Hiral Dave
Rajkot, Hindustan Times
Gujarat elections,Patidars,Hardik Patel
Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti leader Hardik Patel addresses a press conference in Ahmedabad.(PTI File)

Patidar leader Hardik Patel on Wednesday rubbished the BJP’s charge that he was a ‘Congress agent’ and said he was against the ruling party in the state as it had failed to create jobs and education opportunities for the youth.

Speaking at the same venue from where Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani had addressed a section of Patidars on Tuesday, Hardik said the huge crowd “showed who was more popular”.

“Let us show our strength to Vijay Rupani in Rajkot and others in faraway Gandhinagar,” he said. Rupani is contesting from Rajkot West assembly constituency and Hardik decided to hold his first rally at an urban centre in his constituency.

This was also his last stop in the whirlwind tour of Patidar homeland rural Saurashtra, where he addressed four meetings during the day.

Referring to his August, 2015 rally in Rajkot, Hardik recalled how the police had used force against the assembled Patels. He also asked people not to forget and forgive the BJP for committing atrocities on Patidars.

In western Rajkot, the venue for the event, most of the posters of local Congress candidate Indranil Rajyaguru were replaced by Hardik’s.

Several local Congress leaders and Patidar youth wearing caps with the ‘Jai Sardar’ slogan came to receive the young leader, resulting in a traffic jam on the Nana Mauva Chowk.

Bhavesh Patel, 24, explained the reason behind the enthusiasm. “The Son of Sardar (Patidar) is coming,” he said, referring to Hardik, who had led an agitation demanding reservation in jobs and admissions in educational institutions for his community.

Hardik’s Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) has accepted the 20% economically backward classes reservation for Patidars offered by the Congress.

“They say Hardik is Congress agent, Hardik is opposing the BJP. But I do so because farmers are reeling, Patidars were beaten, killed, Dalits are on the streets, there are no jobs and education is expensive. If my stand against this makes me anti-BJP, then I am,” he said.

Responding to Hardik, standing committee chairman at the BJP-ruled Rajkot Municipal Corporation, Pragnesh Patel, said the community knew the Congress was behind the Patidar leader’s agitation. “People will not get fooled,’’ he said. As Gujarat gets set to vote, all eyes are on the Patidars who have the ability to influence the result.

First Published: Nov 29, 2017 23:14 IST