Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convenor Arvind Kejriwal, who is in Gujarat on a four-day visit, Saturday blamed BJP national president Amit Shah for the protests against his visit. Incidentally, ahead of Kejriwal’s visit, banners had surfaced in Unjha, with slogans terming him as a “friend of Pakistan”, a “traitor of the country” and a “guilty of the Army”. A banner across the highway to Unjha showed Kejriwal wearing a cap with Pakistan flag, stating, “Raita Dilli mein phailao, Unjha mein toh saunf jeera ki khushboo phaili hai”.
Wooing the Patidars ahead of next year’s Gujarat assembly polls, Kejriwal also sought their support to “clean” the state’s politics and assured support to get “justice”. At Bapunagar in Ahmedabad, answering a question on the protests against his visit, after he met the family members of Shwetang Patel, who was killed during the quota violence, Kejriwal said, “Virodh toh Amit Shah ji kara rahe hain, aur woh karaenge” (Amit Shah is behind the protests to my visit and he will continue to do it), alleging that his party’s Gujarat in-charge, Gulab Singh Yadav, had been booked in a false case.
Reacting to Kejriwal’s statement, state BJP spokesman Bharat Pandya said, “Kejriwal is levelling baseless allegations against Amit Shah. The people of Gujarat would not accept his anti-national conduct and anti-Gujarat stand.” Pandya, in a statement issued Saturday, said that the AAP need-ed to go into real reasons of public anger against it, instead of making false charges against others.
Kejriwal continued meeting families of Patidar youths killed during quota agitation in Ahmedabad on Saturday. He also connected with the OBC community, visiting two Thakore community homes and extending support to OBC leader Alpesh Thakore for his campaign against bootlegging. During his visits to the families of youths — one of whom was a Thakore — killed during quota stir, Kejriwal reiterated his demand for action against “the leader who ordered police to fire at the Patidars”.
Beginning the day with a puja at the temple of Umiya Mata, Kadva Patel community’s reigning deity, in Unjha of Mehsana district, Kejriwal also garlanded a Sardar Patel statue and visited the Unjha municipality which had rejected both BJP and Congress to elect 35 independents of the 36-member body in the local body elections held last December.
Both Patidar organisations — Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), led by Hardik Patel, and Lalji Patel-led Sardar Patel Group (SPG) — who had already welcomed Kejriwal’s meeting with Patidar ‘martyr’ families, handed over the memorandum they wrote Friday, to Kejriwal in Mehsana on Saturday.
After meeting families of two Patidar violence victims in Mehsana on Friday, Kejriwal met the families of Nimesh Patel (47) at Ghatlodiya, Siddharth Patel (19) at Vastral and Shwetang Patel at Bapunagar — all BJP bastions in Ahmedabad. He then met the family of Prahlad Thakore — who was also killed in the same violence — at Nikol. Speaking in Kamli village of Unjha taluka after meeting the family of constable Nagji Thakore, who allegedly committed suicide two months back blaming bootleggers, policemen and politicians for his death, Kejriwal referred to the Patidar violence and said, “Whichever leader had given order for the firing should be meted out strongest punishment to give justice to the victims”. At this the crowd screamed “General Dyer! General Dyer!” Kejriwal also took up their case for compensation, saying that Rs four lakh was not enough to compensate the deaths and appealed to the state government to give “fair compensation”.
Referring to the non-bailable arrest warrant issued against Gulab Singh Yadav, Kejriwal accused the BJP of playing the “politics of suppression” against opposition parties. “They are doing it in Delhi. And they have started it in Gujarat as well. But AAP will become stronger in proportion to the degree of suppression,” Kejriwal said.
Kejriwal was accompanied by former BJP MLA Yatin Oza, AAP leader Sanjay Singh and former BJP MLA and now Gujarat’s AAP convenor Dr Kanubhai Kalsaria. Asked if he supported PAAS leader Hardik Patel, Kejriwal said, “We are supporting all protests. Wherever we are going people are seeking justice. Those guilty of firing should be punished and people should be given adequate compensation.”