Gujarat election: Hardik Patel attacks PM Modi, calls for unity among different communities

Ahmedabad: On a day when speculations made rounds about his meeting with Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi in Ahmedabad, Hardik Patel launched an attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his public address at the Adhikar Sammelan, held at the Wadiyar Patidar Samaj Wadi in Mandal in Ahmedabad on October 23. Addressing the packed venue, which comprised of leaders from various other communities, Hardik stressed on the need for communities to be “united” ahead of the Gujarat polls and ‘dared’ Modi to announce the election dates, instead of visiting Gujarat to inaugurate projects that “city Mayors should”.
Felicitated by leaders of the Thakor, Rajput, Muslim and Brahmin communities, Hardik, in his 40-minute long speech denied meeting Rahul Gandhi on Monday, although he admitted that he had met senior Congress leaders. Hardik said, “Since morning today, the media is speculating about me meeting Rahul Gandhi. Yes, I received an invitation yesterday, and I met senior Congress leaders to ask them how do they plan to resolve the issues we are facing. It was important for me to meet them before meeting Rahul Gandhi. I did not meet Rahul Gandhi.” While some news channels played footage of Hardik checking into the Taj Hotel in Ahmedabad at midnight on October 23, Hardik said, “I am not like Modi, who met Nawaz Shariff from the backdoor at midnight. I checked into the hotel from the front gate, to meet a businessman. Some people are creating an issue (of my presence in that hotel), but they don’t want to ask questions about the Rs 10 lakh cash that one man showed on TV yesterday.”
Hardik was referring to North Gujarat PAAS convenor Narendra Bhailal Patel, who claimed on Sunday night that he conducted a ‘sting operation’ on the BJP, which had offered him Rs 1 crore to join the party. Narendra had displayed bundles of currency amounting to Rs 10 lakh, which he alleged was the advance paid to him for joining the BJP on Sunday. Hardik said, “If any other man would have displayed Rs 10 lakh in cash, these people (the government) would have sent the IT, ED, police and other agencies after him to probe the source of the money. But, in this particular case, they don’t want to find out who gave his man Rs 10 lakh in cash?”
Hardik also spoke about losing two of his close aides–Varun and Reshma Patel, who joined the BJP on Saturday by comparing himself to a kankhajura (centipede). Hardik said, “Two days ago, I became a kankhajura, I lost two legs… but I am standing… what can I do? People feel that Amit Shah knows Chanakya neeti (so) he broke my back. But I am telling you, the elections are approaching. When you stand in the queue at the polling booth, just recall that 14 families (of Patidar youths, who were killed) haven’t lit a lamp in two years. Remember those women who were inflicted with injuries, remember the bullets they pumped into our youths… not a single family of the (Patidar) martyrs has received the promised compensation; not a single police officer has been suspended.”
Without naming Modi, who has visited Gujarat several times in the last two months to inaugurate a slew of development projects, Hardik said, “He came here 15 times in 2 months. He is on a repeat mode saying, ‘We are getting 150 (seats); we will bring 150 (seats)…I dare him to announce the elections. Let’s see. In one day, the results will be out.” Hardik went on to mock Modi for inaugurating civic body projects in Vadodara on Sunday and said, “Previously, Prime Ministers would inaugurate only big ticket projects like an airport, a grand infrastructure… But yesterday, he (Modi) came to Vadodara–remember, the Prime Minister came to Vadodara to inaugurate a few bridges… I don’t even know the names of the bridges, but he came for it… You know what happened? The mayor of the city was left miffed… These were projects that the Mayor should have inaugurated but the PM took away that right from him.”
Stating that Modi had lost his “steam”, Hardik said, “Have you seen this man (Modi), in the last five days, has lost his steam… Have you seen, in the history of India, that the date of the result of an election has been declared (December 18), but the dates of the polling have not been declared… When I was in jail, the gates gates would open even at 12 am to allow their (BJP) people to me with money bags and tell me to end the agitation. If the jails can open at 12 am under their rule, can’t we imagine the power they have on various commissions?”
Emphasizing that communities should unite across castes and religions, Hardik accused the BJP of playing inciting communal disharmony to win elections. Hardik said, “These are the people, who have got power by committing countless murders… The ones who caused 2002 (communal riots) are in Delhi now… and more than 147 Patels are languishing in jails (in riot cases). These people promised to help them, but no one has got even a money order of Rs 200 for these years. They have been forgotten. There are innocent Muslims also who are in jails. As elections approach, these people will fan communal discord. Don’t fall into their trap. They can kill me too, they could have killed me… but they cannot kill you (a united community)… So, we must pledge that despite all that has happened –Yes, Vikas has gone mad; Yes, they took away my leaders, but no problem– we will overthrow them.”
Hardik warned the farmer community in the audience to ignore Chief Minister Vijay Rupani’s announcement of zero interest farm loans. Hardik said, “Don’t fall into his trap… they have promised interest free loans in all previous elections. If any one of you ever got interest-free loan, raise your hands…None of you are raising hands, then why do you go and vote for them?” Hardik added, “Jay Shah and Mahesh Shah have been forgotten. They are so clever that even when they do wrong, they do it with so much silence and system that people think they are offering sweets to people. They can give diabetes to people.”
Hardik was joined by former BJP leader Gehrilal Dangi, now heading the Patel Navnirman Sena of Udaipur, where Hardik stayed for six months in July 2016, while being outlawed from the state of Gujarat. Dangi addressed the crowd and urged them to “teach a lesson” to traitors of the Patidar community, who have joined the BJP on Saturday. Dangi said, “They take a vow in the name of Maa Khodalmata, but we forget that this is kalyug, where people take false promises. It is painful when our own people cheat us… I am here to appeal to you that the Patidar community is gold. We must not end this unity. The agents of government are trying to divide the community. Let us not fall into their trap. Our Mewar has a tradition, if anyone takes a fake vow over a kuldevi (deity), should be garlanded with shoes. Don’t allow them to enter your village.”

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