In an indirect appeal to her community youths, who have been leading an agitation over OBC status for the Patidar community, Chief Minister Anandiben Patel on Sunday invoked Sardar Patel. Breaking her silence for the first time over the sensitive issue of caste-based reservation to get college admissions and government jobs, Anandiben said, “Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel could integrate more than 500 kingdoms. Can’t we six crore Gujaratis live in unity?”. She said this at the unveiling ceremony of Sardar Patel statue at Kalawad in Jamnagar district on the occasion of 59th birth anniversary of BJP state president Ranchoddas Faldu. Kalawad is the former constituency of Faldu, who lost Assembly election in 2012. The event drew huge presence from Leuva Patels.
The CM further said, “Sardar Vallabhbhai always talked about the development of all. He stood for truth. And when he felt it, he was also the one to tell Gandhiji that he was not in favour of this or that agitation. He taught us the value of peace, harmony and unity. Are his lessons to be kept only in books?”.
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Anandiben invoked Sardar Patel after July 24 rally, supported by newly-formed Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), at Visnagar in Mehsana district had turned violent. Following this, the office of local MLA, Rishikesh Patel, was also ransacked. Incidentally, Mehsana is Anandiben’s home district.
Though Vijapur administration in Mehsana district had withdrawn the permission for similar rally on July 28, about 30,000 Patidar youths, backed by Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti took to the streets. Further, they have planned more than 10 rallies across Gujarat in the coming days.
The top brass of the state BJP, including Anandiben and Faldu, 37 MLAs and six ministers belong to the same Patidar community. The BJP and government both, however, have taken the stand against the agitation. Anandiben, who has been silent on the issue so far, indirectly touched upon it in Saurashtra, which is dominated by Leuva Patels.
Though both Levua and the Kadva youths have joined hands in the ongoing agitation, it has been so far more successful in central Gujarat, where the Kadvas outnumber the Leuvas.
Faldu, in the state unit meeting on Wednesday, had called the agitation a political ploy and asked party leaders to cite Supreme Court guidelines that do not allow more than 50 per cent caste-based reservation in the state. Meanwhile, Faldu was weighed against silver on the occasion and Rajya Sabha MP Mansukh Mandavila, also a Leuva Patel from Palita in Saurashtra, against Khadi by the community at the function. Along with Faldu, Anandiben was also weighed against silver.