Farmer leader Jayesh Patel who was in the forefront of protests in Surat against land acquisitions for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the presence of its newly appointed state president CR Paatil at the party headquarters in Gandhinagar on Monday.
South Gujarat president of the Khedut Samaj Gujarat (KSG), Patel, also known as Jayesh ‘Delad’ after the village he belongs to, is also one of the 18 directors of Sumul Dairy, which has over 2.5 lakh members. He also headed the Parshottam Farmers Mandal.
“We took up arms against the government to get justice for farmers. For the past 20-25 years, I have been working for farmers… During the discussions on farmers’ issues with Cabinet Minister Ganpat Vasava and Ishwarbhai Patel in the past two months, I realised that these can be resolved through talks, not agitations. With me joining the BJP, farmers will benefit and co-operative societies will be strengthened,” Delad told The Indian Express.
Cabinet Minister for Tribal development and Forests, Ganpat Vasava, MLA from Majura seat in Surat, Harsh Sanghavi, BJP Surat district president Dilipsinh Rathod and senior BJP leader Shabdsharan Brahmbhatt were present at the party headquarters where Vasant Patel, member of KSG and resident of Sonla Khada village of Olpad taluka, also joined the BJP with Jayesh.
President of KSG and also his namesake, Jayesh Patel, said, “It is their decision to join the BJP. They have not taken us into confidence. I don’t think that BJP will get benefit from them. They might have entered the party for some personal gains. In our various movements, Jayesh Patel was with us, fighting against the BJP government… Now he has joined the party, which is a bit shocking for us. In KSG, the organisation is important, not persons. KSG has not lost any important person nor has the organisation become weak after their exit. That only one person followed him to the BJP shows his influence among the farmers.”
Delad who joined KSG in 1995 later became its Olpad taluka president from where he rose to its South Gujarat president. He was active fighting for the rights of farmers for compensation as per the market price for the bullet train project and express highway project. He was among those detained by Surat police during KSG agitation against the bullet train project.
“After meetings with Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and revenue minister Kaushik Patel, as well as Olpad MLA, the jantri rate for five villages was increased from Rs 91 to Rs 710, benefiting the farmers. We are not against development and hope that with farmers’ support, the bullet train issue will be resolved through discussions,” said Delad.
Asked why the farmer leader joined the BJP, party state president Paatil said, “They do not see any future in the Congress. They feel Congress has become like Titanic that is ready to sink. Their political future is not safe with the Congress. That’s why they have joined the BJP… To strengthen the organisation, we are fully active. If the Congress is scared after my appointment, then this fear is justified. They need to be scared as it is uncertain how long they will survive.”
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