Politicians, mostly those belonging to the ruling BJP, have been on the receiving end of the Patidar agitation for reservation.
Days after two Surat MLAs were booed out when they went to pacifiy the community after the August 25 violence and BJP vice-president Purushottam Rupala was forced to leave an event in Unjha midway by protesting Patidar women, boards and banners have come up at the gates of residential societies in Surat’s Kapodara and Vadodara’s Bhayli, urging locals to deny entry to politicians. The local body elections will be held in the state soon.
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There are also reports of residents of some Patel-dominated villages withdrawing their bank deposits, with one cooperative bank claiming that about Rs 20 lakh was withdrawn in just one day. The residents have also banned the entry of political leaders into their hamlets as part of their protest against alleged police atrocities during the recent violence.
A board at the gate of Kapodara society says, “Political leaders, either from Congress or BJP, should not come here seeking votes. If they do, they will be responsible for the outcome.”
The Patidar community at Bhayli in Vadodara has also put up boards in the locality, warning politicians from stepping into the area “seeking votes or making appeals” at their own risk. Signed by the community collectively as “Bhayli Gam Patidar Samaj”, the hoardings read, “This is to inform all political leaders and party workers from BJP, Congress and other parties to not step into this area for seeking votes. Any consequence of not respecting this request would be the sole responsibility of political leaders alone.”
Paresh Patel, convenor of Vadodara district Patidar committee, said the boards are being installed in all villages and localities dominated by the community. “In wake of the upcoming (local body) elections, we are warning politicians to not play with innocent voters or demand votes before the issue of Patidar reservation is resolved. It is part of the ongoing agitation,” he said.
A message with a picture of a lotus struck off is also widely circulated on WhatsApp and other networking sites. It says, “The lotus should not bloom in 249 taluka panchayats, 33 district panchayats, municipal corporations and 30 municipalities, only then this government will fathom the Patidar power.” Last week, the Patidars had stayed away from of a public event attended by Chief Minister Anandiben Patel at Bahucharaji in Mehsana district.
Also, the Patel leaders had earlier made an appeal to their community members to withdraw their money from banks to give a message to the state government for not acceding to their OBC reservation demand.
Responding to an appeal made by the Sardar Patel Group, several Patidar locals queued up outside the Sabarkantha District Cooperative Bank in Vadrad village of Sabarkantha district on Monday to withdraw their deposits.
“To support the demand of reservation for our community, I have withdrawn Rs 50,000 from this bank. There are many others from our community who will also withdraw their deposits. We will not put the money back into the bank till our demands are not met,” a local, Mahesh Patel, said.
According to the cooperative bank manager K K Patel, about Rs 20 lakh was withdrawn in just one day. “As part of the Patel agitation, these people are withdrawing their deposits. We cleared several cheques worth Rs 20 lakh till Monday afternoon. This may continue in coming days,” K K Patel was quoted as saying by PTI.
With inputs from PTI