In a massive show of strength that virtually halted the city of Ahmedabad, the Patel sub-community held a rally demanding inclusion in the OBC category for availing reservation. The ‘Maha Kranti’ rally, led by 22-year old Hardik Patel, had the community leaders warning BJP-run state government of political consequences if their community is not made eligible for quota.
“If you do not give our right (reservation), we will snatch it. Whoever will talk of interest of Patels will rule over Patels,” Hardik Patel told the large gathering.
“In 1985, we had uprooted Congress from Gujarat, today there is BJP. 2017 (state election year) is coming… it (lotus) will never bloom,” he added warning the state government.
After the rally, Hardik Patel said he will sit on a hunger strike at the venue till the Chief Minister (Anandiben Patel) does not come to take a memorandum from them.
Even though Chief Minister Anandiben Patel had expressed her inability to include the community in the OBC category, citing the Supreme Court guidelines, the agitating Patel community remains steadfast in their demands.
“We have elected representatives from Gujarat and we have sent representatives to the Centre, they are not there just to make laws or to amend the Constitution. We have sent you to serve our community…we only need our rights,” Hardik Patel said.
Holding that the community forms a major chunk, the community leaders asserted that “We (Patel-farming community) are not in Gujarat only… We are 1.80 crore in Gujarat…, we also have a large presence in the country”.
Attacking the Narendra Modi government, the 22-year community leader said, “You are making 180-metre tall idol of Sardar (Statue of Unity) to take political advantage… We, Patels wish to be included in reserved category to fulfil the dream of Modi saheb of ‘Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas’”.
The rally where several people had streamed in to Ahmedabad, further saw their leaders making clarion call to the government. Apart from the issue of reservation for the farming sub-community among Patels, the rally also took up the issue of acute agrarian distress and the farmer suicides.
“When we talk about farmers…6,000 farmers committed suicide in ten years… Who will take responsibility for that (suicides)… We are not going to tolerate farmers’ suicide,” Patel said.
The state government had been keeping a close eye on issue ever since the Patels had declared the intention to hold a massive rally in Ahmedabad. With the Patel community giving a call for city bandh on Monday, many business establishments, schools and colleges were shut for the day.
Security too was intensified across the city and around its outskirts. Briefing the press on Monday, Police commissioner Shivanand Jha had told of “foolproof” security arrangements, with more than 17,000 police personnel deployed for the purpose.
(With inputs from the PTI)