While Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates the ambitious Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project on September 14, along with Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel is all set to take out a parallel three-day ‘Sankalp Yatra’ at the same time. The rally, which will comprise a convoy of 182 cars, will culminate in Somnath on September 16.
PAAS has mapped the route of the Yatra, which will be led by Hardik and will pass through Viramgam, Malwan, Halvad, Morbi, Tankara, Padhri, Kalavad-Khodalgam, Vijpur, Jetpur, Jetalsar, Chokhi, Vanthali, Keshod and Ajaab, before finally culminating in Somnath. Hardik says that the rally is symbolic to the ongoing protest for reservation for the community. Hardik told The Indian Express, “I will lead the rally for three days. The idea behind the rally is to highlight our demand. We are firm in our resolve to continue this agitation. We will highlight the issues of unemployment and other issues that are affecting people.”
Hardik says the rally can be viewed from a political lens ahead of the Gujarat Assembly polls. He said,”The rally is not politically motivated, but yes anyone who wants to call it a political rally is free to see it that way. The rally will see people from other communities joining us on our way to Somnath–Brahmins, OBCs, Dalits and Muslims will also be part of the rally. We are all affected by common issues.”
PAAS leaders remained mum on whether the rally has police permission, given that it coincides with the high profile visit of Modi and Abe to Ahmedabad. Jatin Vasoya, who is among the PAAS leaders coordinating the rally, said, “The rally will commence at 9 am on September 14 from Hardik’s Ahmedabad residence on the Ring Road. It will straight away proceed to Viramgam. For the night, we will halt in Tankara and resume our yatra. We are getting together to visit Somnath. Why would the police have a problem with that?” Incidentally, at 9 am on Thursday, Modi and Abe will lay the foundation stone for the High Speed bullet train to come up between Ahmedabad and Mumbai.
PAAS leaders are using social media to spread the word about the rally within the community, particularly urging the youth to participate in large numbers by registering for the rally through a missed call. Banners that include pictures of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Chhatrapati Shivaji and Bhagat Singh, have been circulated across Patidar community. The banners will also be part of the rally to begin from Ahmedabad on Thursday.