Gopal Italia, the 31-year-old flamboyant youth from Surat and a vocal critic of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who recently joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), has been appointed vice-president of party’s Gujarat unit.
Italia, who was earlier associated with Hardik Patel’s Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), joined the AAP in the virtual presence of senior national party leader and minister in Delhi government, Gopal Rai.
“I joined the AAP because it is a party of educated leaders. Only an educated leadership can give a new direction to the political system. I want the AAP’s vision of governance that has been implemented in Delhi, to be implemented in Gujarat. It is a vision where quality education and health amenities are available to people free of cost. I also have a vision of corruption-free system. I want people to elect a government on the basis of such basic issues. And to achieve those goals, I have joined the AAP,” said Italia.
A native of Timbi village from Umrala tehsil of Bhavnagar district, Italia is a graduate in political science. He came to limelight in 2017 when as a government employee, he had called up Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, complaining about the inefficient prohibition law in the state. He was then a clerk in the revenue department, posted in Dhandhuka of Saurashtra region.
The phone call went viral on social media, following which Italia also faced a criminal case of impersonation. During the call, he had identified himself as an LRD jawan ‘by mistake’. Before this, Italia was also a Lok Rakshak Dal (an equivalent of police constable) in Gujarat police.
Italia courted more controversies later that year when he hurled a shoe at Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja, alleging rampant corruption in Gujarat. The incident happened outside the Gujarat assembly where Jadeja was about to address media persons. Following the incident, Italia was dismissed from service for violation of service rules.
After those incidents, Italia has been quite active in public life while being very vocal against the ruling BJP on social media. He also joined the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), a social organisation, led by Hardik Patel and worked with it for around two years.
Popular among youth in Gujarat, Italia struck a chord with the public with his initiative to hold Kayda Katha in different parts of the state. Derived from the concept of religious events such as Ram Katha, Italia has been doing the Kayda Katha to spread awareness among people on the Constitution and various laws concerning people and the “real” issues in their day-to-day life.
Vocal about his criticism of both the BJP and the Congress, Italia is facing a number of criminal cases against him in Gujarat. He says that all the cases are of political nature.
On his decision to join the AAP in Gujarat where so far there is no effective third front, Italia said, “I am proud to have chosen the AAP. We will create our own unique identity instead of going for a ready made identity (of two established political parties in Gujarat). I have chosen a path of struggle.”
Italia said that AAP was planning big for the upcoming by-elections to eight assembly seats and general elections of local bodies later this year. He adds that the AAP will give a model where educated youth will get maximum chance and platform for good governance-oriented politics.
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