Farmers, workers and Dalits in danger, says Hardik Patel in MP’s Bundelkhand
Gujarat’s Patidar leader Hardik Patel asked Bundelkhand farmers at a rally on Sunday who they thought was responsible for the region’s “parched land, dry rivers, struggling animals and lack of progress”.
While insisting he was not in Bundelkhand for politics, he spoke of votes and the need to send the “right people” to Madhya Pradesh assembly and Parliament. Madhya Pradesh assembly elections are expected this year.
“I am here to make you aware. We are losing time. Our farmers, workers, Dalits, backward communities… are in danger. Whole of India is in danger. If you don’t wake up, we will be finished. We have to change an era,” he said in the rally at Garhakota town of Sagar district. “If you vote for small gains, they will continue to rule us and we have to continue agitations like these,” said Patel.
Thousands turned up for the afternoon rally organised by Pichda Varg Sanyukt Morcha and local farmer organisations.
His fellow young leaders from Gujarat, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani, were scheduled to address the rally but could not make it. “They could not be here, but I am enough,” said Patel. The troika of leaders had mounted a challenge for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the December 2017 Gujarat polls.
Patel said he was ready to fight for Bundelkhand, but people would have to stand by him. Without naming chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, he said those in power knew what would happen if farmers unite. “Then nothing can be done even by the computer of the computer baba,” he added, again without naming anyone.
Referring to the MP government granting minister of state status to five religious readers, Patel said, “If one baba can become CM, why can’t five become ministers of state. I respect these babas, but now they should work for the people.”
State rural development minister Gopal Bhargava, whose home turf was the venue for the rally, said Patel’s statements had nothing to do with Bundelkhand’s ground reality. “My people know who resolves their issues. He will not come from Gujarat to resolve their issues. I trust my people,” added Bhargava, a BJP heavyweight who has won the Rehli assembly seat in the region seven successive times.
State Congress chief spokesperson KK Mishra said, “Hardik Patel was exposing the misrule and corruption of BJP governments at the Centre and in states. Congress appreciates his move.”
‘I’m just 24, I don’t know why BJP is afraid of me’
Talking about facing an ink attack in Ujjain on Saturday night, Patel said at the rally it was done by an ‘andh bhakt’ (blind follower). “He ruined my new shirt, blackened my face but I forgave him. He had come there at somebody’s behest. I am just 24 years old, I don’t know why BJP people are so afraid of me?”
Police have arrested Ujjain resident Milan Gurjar, 30, for the ink attack on Patel.
A court on Sunday sent Gurjar to judicial custody. Talking to mediapersons before being taken away, he said Patel was misleading the country’s youngsters. Gurjar added that he would lodge an FIR against Patel and others for thrashing him.
Gurjar said he was a farmer and also in the sand business. Patel and his supporters did not complain to the police against him. Police took action against him under section 151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (arrest to prevent the commission of cognizable offences).
Gurjar’s friends on Facebook appreciated his “courage”. One of his friends, Dinesh Gurjar, said, “He does not belong to the Congress or the BJP. He is a social worker.”
With inputs from Sandeep Vatsa