Agitation by the Patidars for OBC status and reservation benefits on Monday reached the Gujarat capital, where nearly 20,000 members of the community participated in a silent march to the collectorate. As part of the stir, they submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister’s Office on the issue of suicides by farmers belonging to the Patel community.
Besides a silent march in Gandhinagar, the Patels held rallies in Navsari, Jamnagar and Amreli districts.
Under the banner of Sardar Patel Sevadal, the community members marched to the collectorate in Gandhinagar.The memorandum to the CM, which they handed over to the collector, stated: “Due to limited income and erratic seasons, our (farmers) condition has worsened. This can be understood from the number of farmer suicides.” The Gujarat government on floor of the Assembly has so far denied that the number of farmer suicides was significant in the state.
“Chief Minister Anandiben Patel goes house to house seeking votes. She should visit our households to know how we have been suffering,” said 42-year-old Geeta Patel from Gandhinagar. “Our sons and daughters, despite scoring 80-90 per cent, have been deprived of college admissions and later government jobs.”
The state, so far, has witnessed nearly 10 rallies since July by various Patel groups, which have now come under the umbrella of Patidars Anamat Andolan Samiti.
Youths, women and elderly, they all walked from Gh-O road to open ground at Upavas Chavni, where they observed a two-minute silence. While the crowd remained at the ground, a few representatives led by Gandhinagar Sardar Patel Sevadal president Gaurang Patel, under the police watch, were taken to the collector’s office to submit the memorandum.
“To avoid untoward incident like the one in Visnagar, as many as 4 DSPs and 14 police inspectors were overseeing the security arrangement,” said a top police official. On July 16, a similar rally at Visnagar in Mehsana district had turned violent and agitators had ransacked the office of local BJP MLA Rishikesh Patel and torched a vehicle. State BJP president Ranchoddas Faldu, last week, had stated that the Patidars should make their representation to a “right platform”. He, however, had called the agitation a “political ploy”.
The memorandum further said that the majority of Kadva and Leuva Patels were still engaged in agricultural activities.
It also said that though the Patels form a significant part of the population in Gujarat, their community has not been properly represented in the government services due to the existing reservation system. While the community has given industrialists in various sectors in Gujarat, mainly in ceramic and diamond, top brass of the state BJP cadre has leaders who are Patels, including the Chief Minister and the state BJP president.
The community members also held rallies in Bagasara town of Amreli, Jamjodhpur town of Jamnagar and Navsari. Even as the vehicle rally organised by Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti in Navsari saw a poor response, its Surat wing has planned a similar demonstration in the city on August 17.
In the morning, nearly 100 members of the Patel community gathered at Navsari Railway Station and took out a rally to the district collector’s office and submitted a memorandum.
In Bagasara, at least 3,000 Patidars gathered at the Patel Community Hall in Bagasara town of Amreli under the banner of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, and raised slogans calling the leaders of the present government “anti-farmers”. Later, they marched to the office of Bagasara mamlatdar and submitted a memorandum.
Similarly at Jamjodhpur, under the leadership of Ashwin Bhuva, former sarpanch of Balva village, the community members submitted a memorandum to the mamlatdar and local BJP MLA Chiman Shapriya.
“The Patidars are not as well do as they are believed to be. We are better off, but our children are struggling to secure admissions and jobs. Therefore, we should also get reservation benefits,” Bhuva said.
Incidentally, the Patidars had taken out a big bike rally in Devbhoomi-Dwarka district on Sunday also.