A BJP veteran and retired teacher, Murlidhar Patil, who served as municipal corporator from Limbayat twice and was once close to BJP MP C R Patil, joined the Congress at its lok darbar held in the Patidar-dominated Varachha area of Surat on Friday.
The lok darbar was also attended by Surat’s Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leaders who voiced their grievances. Murlidhar Patil, who also served as the general secretary of BJP Surat city unit, joined the Congress with two hundred youths who he claimed were BJP workers.
On Friday morning, the party’s 8th lok darbar programme was organised in Surat at Kamrej taluka, followed by another in the evening at Hirabaug area of Varachha. Large number of people from different villages across Surat turned out to voice their grievances. The opposition leader in the state assembly, Shankersinh Vaghela, Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee president Bharatsinh Solanki, senior Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia and former Union minister for road and transport Dr Tushar Chaudhary were present.
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The Congress leaders heard the issues of the people related to water, street light, education, etc. Patidars turned up at the Hirabaug meet in large number, wearing caps with the slogan “Jay Sardar Jay Patidar”.
Talking to The Indian Express, Murlidhar Patil said, “I have been with the BJP for the last 36 years. But now I feel that the works of people are not being done. I am a representative of the public and whenever I raise problems of the people, like drainage, drinking water and street light, nobody in the BJP listens to me. So, I decided to join the Congress party. I had some differences with BJP MP C R Patil and have now fallen out with him.”
The Surat PAAS leaders and co-convenors were also present at the lok darbar programme at Hirabaug Circle. Surat PAAS co-convenor Dharmik Malviya said, “We have given a list of questions to the Congress leaders and are expecting answers from them. The questions are related to the Congress stand on Hardik Patel, 20 percent EBC reservation, the misuse of sedition charges by government against people, the police torture and why Congress had not stopped functioning of the state assembly.”
Shankersinh Vaghela said, “We have not come here to take vote from you. We have come here to listen to your grievances and try to sort out them. The BJP is ruling the state for the last 20 years and every citizen of Gujarat should be happy, but the picture is totally different as the common citizens of Gujarat are surrounded with different problems and there is nobody to listen to them. The state government is busy organising sammelans. The people of Gujarat have voted for the BJP for the last 20 years and now these people are facing problems like shortage of water, electricity, roads, corruption, inflation, shortage of teachers, poverty and unemployment, etc. The state government has failed in tackling the issues of the common man.”
Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia compared the state BJP government with festival celebration government which organises “Rannotsav, monsoon festival, school entrolment festival while nothing has been done for poor, tribals and farmers in the state.”
GPCC president Bharatsinh Solanki said, “The inflation in the country is rising day by day and the prices of essential commodities are also high. The government has no plans to control them. The government-run power plants are shutting down and they are purchasing power from the private players at high rates. We have come here to sort out the issues of the public and if the problems are not sorted out, we will hold dharna and agitations in the coming days.”