Gujarat Congress working president Hardik Patel visited Vadodara on Saturday to lend support to the ongoing agitation by residents of Sanjay Nagar in Warasiya area whose slums were razed as part of a rehabilitation project in 2017. The residents have been agitating for over three weeks as they are yet to get their reconstructed homes.
Hardik said that despite projecting itself as a ‘Hindu party’, the BJP has turned deaf ears to over 1,800 “Hindu” beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana scheme identified by the civic body before it razed their slums in 2017.
Following several protests and memorandums that went unheeded, the beneficiaries have now erected tents at the site seeking action against the VMC and chanting slogans against the state government.
Patel, who was accompanied by leaders of the Vadodara city Congress unit, pledged full support to the residents while launching a scathing attack on the BJP-run civic body as well as the state government.
Patel, while addressing reporters in Vadodara on Saturday, said, “They (BJP) say they are a Hindu party, saviours of Hindus. But here in Sanjay Nagar, all these 1,800 residents, as well as those who they were excluded from their list — which would make about 3,000 beneficiaries –, are all Hindus. There is not a single Muslim beneficiary here. But the BJP has turned a blind eye to their pleas and left them homeless.”
Patel said, “The BJP revels in calling itself a corruption-free party. The fact is that they are masters of silent corruption. Their scams begin at the lowest level of governance… How much money has the BJP amassed in the last 30 years of its governance in the state?”
The BJP has failed to construct a single hospital and English medium government school in its 30 years of governance in the state, Patel added.
Patel also said that the new Congress in the state believes in the ideologies of Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as well as Bhagat Singh. “The BJP should know that we are no longer a party that will take things lying down. The BJP should also stop poaching our MLAs and become atmanirbhar,” he said.
When asked about the party’s split factions, especially in the context of Ashok Gehlot government crisis in Rajasthan, Patel said, “I am not like the BJP spokespersons who speak about matters that don’t even concern them including Pakistan. I am the President of Gujarat Congress and my job is to deal with issues here in the state and not comment about other states.”
Assuring the residents of Sanjay Nagar that the Congress will lead the agitation until the issue is resolved, Patel also announced a ‘protest march’ from Vadodara to Gandhinagar.
The residents have submitted multiple memorandums to the municipal commissioner demanding a cancellation of the project, which had run into trouble in December 2017 when the then VMC commissioner Vinod Rao had issued notices to the developer alleging breach of contract and irregularities. Rao had attracted the wrath of BJP MLA Yogesh Patel, who was said to be close to one of the partners in the Joint Venture. After a public spat, the issue between the two was buried and VMC saw a change of guard.
As per the contract, the developer is to pay each beneficiary a monthly sum of Rs 2,000 towards the rental accommodation costs until the completion of the project. However, with the project far from completion, the developer also suspended the allowance since early this year, leaving the beneficiaries in a lurch.
The residents have formed a body Sanjaynagar Vikas Mandal to further their agitation, demanding the cancellation of the project.
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