Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) on Monday vowed to launch another round of agitation for OBC quota next month to “open eyes” of Gujarat government which it said was “dragging its feet” on the issue. The announcement was made by Samiti leaders at Jangvad village in Rajkot district, where thousands of Patels, including all the 50-odd PAAS conveners, gathered to attend a rally, organised by the PAAS to mark birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
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The call for the rally was given by Hardik, currently based in Udiapur in Rajasthan. Hardik’s close aide and PAAS convener for Saurashtra region, Lalit Vasoya announced that Hardik has given a go ahead to restart the stir. Since Hardik, on bail in sedition cases in connection with last year’s Patel quota stir, is currently barred from entering Gujarat, he addressed the gathering through a video message consenting the launch of second round of the protest.
“In his video message, Hardik asked our community to stay united and start the fresh round of agitation, as the state government has closed all other doors for us. PAAS will start this fresh round of agitation from November 20 with a massive rally at Bhayavadar village of Rajkot,” Vasoya told PTI. Last week, 31 PAAS members, including Vasoya, were detained by police in Gandhinagar for allegedly creating a ruckus outside the office of state OBC commission, where they had gathered to submit an application for granting OBC status to Patel community.
“We went there to make a representation as the state government earlier asked us to follow the legal procedures. But, police stopped us from making our representation and detained us. Thus, we are left with no other option than to start the agitation once again to open the eyes of government,” Vasoya said. Another PAAS convener Dinesh Bambhaniya said Hardik has urged Patel community to repose faith in entire PAAS team. “Hardik gave assurance that the community will get reservation with consistent efforts. After our rally in Bhayavadar on November 20, we will organise one such rally in each taluka of Gujarat after every 10 days. We will reach out to each and every village to spread awareness about our cause,” he said.
Last year, the agitation spearheaded by Hardik had led to violence as Patel community members clashed with police at various places across the state. The quota issue has put the ruling BJP government in quandary, which is facing Assembly elections next year.