Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convenor Hardik Patel visited Rajkot and met leaders of Patel community to lay groundwork for a rally that he said he is planning in the city to demand OBC status and reservation benefits for Patidars or Patels.
Hardik reached Rajkot city late on Tuesday night and met social leaders of Patidar community over dinner. Babubhai Ghodasara, a trustee of Umiya Mataji Mandir Trust, Sidsar, a social organisation of Kadva Patels, Paresh Gajera, trustee of Shri Khodaldham Trut, a social organisation of Leuva Patels and Maulesh Ukani, local businessman and son of Umiya Mataji Mandir Turst chairman Dahyabhai Ukani were among those who attended the dinner meeting.
“We conveyed to Hardik that in democracy, any community can demand its right but there are certain ways to do that. We suggested that such rights should be demanded in a manner which will keep image of the (Patidar) community intact, preserve peace and harmony in the state and will not lead to any class conflict,” Maulesh Ukani said on Wednesday.
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But Hardik said leaders of both communities are with him. “Umiyadham and Khodaldham are with us. I am meeting Patidars in Rajkot to prepare ground for a mega rally here. We shall announce date of the rally in a fortnight,” the PAAS convenor told The Indian Express.
PAAS is one of the two main outfits leading Patidars agitation for OBC status and reservation in government jobs and educational institutes in Gujarat. Sardar Patel Group, headed by Lalji Patel, is the other outfit which also claims leadership of the agitation of economically and politically influential community.
In the morning, Hardik visited RP Bhalodiya College and AP Patel Girls Hostel and met with students. He also met former BJP MP from Rajkot, Shivlal Vekaria. “He came to seek our blessings and support for the movement. I told him that his movement should be guided by Gandhian philosophy and that his action should not turn other communities against Patidars,” Vekaria, who has of late fallen out of favour with the BJP, said.
Later in the day, Hardik left for Kagvad village where Khodaldham Trust is building a temple of goddess Khodiyar. From Kagvad, Hardik drove to Deradi Kumbhaji village and met family members of 25 youths who have been booked by police for attempt to murder in connection with violence on August 25.
In the evening, the 22-year-leader of the Patidar agitation met youth of his community in Jasdan town of Rajkot district. He also made a stopover at Kamlapur, the native village of his key aide Dinesh Bambhaniya in Jasdan taluka. He was to pass through Botad before driving back to Ahmedabd.
“My original plan was to remain in Saurashtra till Friday. But leaders of Kurmi community from Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan and Bihar are coming to Ahmedabad to discuss character of Patel Navnirman Sena, an organisation we have set up to mobilise the community in the country. Therefore, I have to truncate my tour,” Hardik further said.