Hardik Patel also reached out to the tribals and OBCs present at the event and invoked tribal leader Birsa Munda.
Patidar quota leader Hardik Patel on Saturday urged his community members to “not believe” everything that they hear on TV, while urging them to vote for a “suitable” candidate who will continue to “hear your problems for the next five years”. On his first visit to Timba village in Sankheda taluka of Chhota Udepur district, where Patidars are in sizeable number, PAAS convener, however, faced protest from a handful of people.
Later while addressing Patidars, Hardik said that he has got “used to allegations”, but pointed out that the community needs to be united like Dalits, who are firmly behind Jignesh Mevani, who is holding talks with the Congress party “for a better future”.
Hardik also mocked the protesters in his speech. “There are be about 30,000 Patels in Chhota Udepur, along with other communities. It is a matter of joy when all communities come together, but today I was amused. In a community of about 30,000 Patidars here, about eight people were standing in the middle of the road to protest my visit with back flags. When the community is united about something, it helps. But some of these people are born out of BJP’s womb.”
As the crowd burst into laughter, Hardik ridiculed the drainage system in the village — the absence of underground, covered sewer lines — and said, “I have heard vikas (development) has gone mad across the state, but in your village vikas has not even been born… The moment I entered your village, you made me climb the roof of the jeep to welcome me. I came here because you, the Patels, called me. I know that Patels don’t live only in Saurashtra but also in Chhota Udepur. So, I urge you to be united. If we don’t stay united, we do not get anything. It is true for all the communities.”
Explaining that his fight was against the “injustice” meted out to Patidar youth, Hardik said, “I want to ask you, if there is any police inspector from any Patel family here, please raise your hands. Since, none of you raised hands, I want to ask you, why do you think are we fighting against the BJP? People ask, why is he openly taking on the BJP, why did he go to the jail by challenging those in power. So let me tell you, this is a fight because when I return to Timba five years from now, and from this dais I ask, ‘How many police inspectors from Patel families are here?’, I must see at least four people raising hands. That is why we are fighting. I do not want you to tell me that we do not even have homeguards in the family.”
Lashing out at certain factions within the community, who have been openly questioning his allegiance to the Congress, Hardik said, “When (Dalit leader) Jignesh Mevani meets Congress leaders to discuss the future of his community members, they do not protest against him, nor do members of Alpesh’s community ( OBC leader Alpesh Thakor). But when I meet Congress leaders to discuss the issues of our community, some people from within the Patidar community call me their agent. I do not mind it. I have become used to allegations. But my fight is for your future. If I wanted to fight elections, I would have done it from Viramgam and only campaigned there. But I am going everywhere to talk to all members of the community. My only interest is to see the youth of my community as IAS and IPS officers.You will keep hearing a lot of things on TV in the days to come, do not believe everything. Let’s move forward.”
Hardik urged Patidars to speak up against the ruling party. He said he understood the “fear” in the minds of the people. Drawing parallels with the NRI Patidars of Central Gujarat districts of Anand and Kheda, who have by and stayed away from the agitation, Hardik said, “The largest Patidar community is in Saurashtra, followed by those in central Gujarat, but the Patidars of central Gujarat are mostly NRIs and they do not come and join us openly as they are scared that their passports will be confiscated after they are booked in cases. I know you all are unhappy, but you are scared to say that in the open as you fear that the BJP will trouble you. But you have to do something, be united and go forward.”
“(In Chhota Udepur), they shut your Sardar sugar mills, but none of you have anything to say to them. You must think, your main crops here are sugarcane and banana. But has the government put up any factories here that help you sell your yield. Today, farmers are very sad and angry in Gujarat. How long do you get electricity? You say 10 hours, twice a day… but he (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) goes and tells people in UP that there is 24 hours electricity in Gujarat,” he said.