Shall continue fight for Patels, farmers: Hardik

Last Updated 26 May 2018, 19:47 IST

Patel quota stir leader Hardik Patel on Saturday initiated one more attempt to revive his agitation by saying that he would continue to fight for the rights of the Patel community and farmers.

Hardik, who spoke at the Patel Nyay Maha Panchayat at Malvan in Surendrangar district of Saurashtra region, about 135 km from Ahmedabad, was joined by about a dozen legislators from the Congress.

"For last two-and-a-half years, we have been fighting for quotas, for free education to poor. Today's (Saturday) mahapanchayat is to bridge any gap and improve relations between you and me," Hardik told an audience of about 5,000 people who had gathered at the venue from across the state.

Hardik, who had sent out an invite to Patel legislators from the BJP as well as the Congress to be part of the event, took a dig at both the party's legislators who did not attend the event.

"Why only 10-12 Patel legislators have come? Where are those 24 (BJP legislators). I can understand that they have not received permission from BJP headquarters but why only dozen legislators from the Congress. Why has Paresh Dhanani (leader of Opposition in Gujarat) not come. He should have come and spoken as his word carries more weight than all those present here," Hardik said.

Hardik was acerbic in his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah and referred to them as "goondas”, "Hitler" and "feku" in his 30-minute speech.

In a sarcastic vein, Hardik also offered his post as convener of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) to Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel.

"The BJP has set the stage for the political encounter of Nitin Patel on the lines of Keshubhai, Gordhan Zhadaphia and Pravin Togadia. Though Nitin Bhai has been against us, we are willing to be his shield as he belongs to our community. If he resigns today and join us, I too shall resign," the 24-year-old leader said.

Hardik’s statement comes amid rumours that Nitin Patel has been asked to resign from the Vijay Rupani-led ministry and to take charge of party affairs for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Speculation is rife in political circles that Nitin may quit along with as many as 24 BJP legislators from the Patel community.

However, Nitin and state party chief Jitu Vaghani have issued statements clarifying that the Gujarat deputy chief minister is not resigning and all the reports are "baseless and aimed at tarnishing his image".

(Published 26 May 2018, 18:55 IST)

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