August 31, 2015 4:02:53 am
Akhilesh Katiyar, the Kurmi leader who organised Hardik Patel’s event at the Gujjar Bhawan in Delhi on Sunday, is the national general secretary of the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP), whose leader Upendra Kushwaha is a Union minister of state.
Katiyar, who is a senior leader of the party in Uttar Pradesh and is based in Delhi, also participated in Hardik’s Gujarat agitation and says he stayed in Ahmedabad for four days ahead of his August 25 rally.
On Sunday, he received Hardik at the airport, accompanied him to his press conference, and later shared the stage with him at the meeting held at Gujjar Bhawan, where he garlanded and hailed him as “Sardar Hardik Bhai Patel”, in a clear comparison with Sardar Patel.
Speaking at the event, Katiyar said, “Today we have got the gift of a chief leader like Hardik Patel, to lead us like Sardar Patel. Sardar Patel had united Indian rulers, who controlled 53 per cent of India at the time of Independence, with his farsightedness. Today the Patel samaj is divided, and Hardik bhai has emerged to bring the country together.”
Upendra Kushwaha, MoS, Human Resource Development, told The Indian Express his party had nothing to do with Sunday’s event. “Katiyar is a member of our party but he did not inform me or the party about this event. The party had no role to play in this, whatever he did, he could have done in his individual capacity.”
Katiyar said his “friendship” with Hardik was independent of his political career. “The party I work in and its leaders have no role in my association with Hardik or in today’s event. That is my political career and this is my work for my community,” Katiyar said.
Adding he would be “coordinating” Hardik’s meetings with senior Gujjar leaders, including Kesari Singh Gujjar and Colonel Atari Singh Gujjar, on Monday, he said he had known Hardik for “around four years”, bonding over “issues of caste and reservation”. After the Gujjar Samaj event, Patel and Katiyar left together.
Earlier, at the gathering attended by around 50-60 people from at least seven-eight Gujjar, Kurmi and Kushwaha organisations, of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, Katiyar said they were working on a “huge Kurmi and Gujjar agitation” in Lucknow in October.
“Everybody should get reservation,” he added. “Jiski jitni sankhya bhaari, uski utni hissedari (Whoever is larger in numbers should get the larger share).”
Calling Hardik the “community leader” for the whole country and “our chief youth leader”, Katiyar said, “He will build an India that is the dream of Sardar Patel and Chhatrapati Shivaji.” On his Facebook page, Katiyar has shared pictures from Hardik’s August 25 Ahmedabad rally. His older posts show him with Kushwaha. Asked about the decision to move the agitation to Delhi, Katiyar said, “Our fight and discussions for reservations have been going on for long. But after the Gujarat rally, Hardik wanted to bring the youth of the Kurmi, Gujjar and Kushwaha communities together in a big way. This is the reason for his visit to Delhi.”
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