BJP president Amit Shah accused the Congress of meting out injustice to the state for “three generations” as he flagged off the first phase of the Gujarat Gaurav Yatra from Karamsad, the birth place of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, on Sunday.
The Gaurav Yatra is the BJP’s outreach initiative ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections due in December. The yatra — planned in two phases covering 4,657 km and through 149 Assembly constituencies — will celebrate development in the state under the BJP’s rule for over 20 years, the party said.
Flanked by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and his deputy Nitin Patel, Shah invoked icons of Gujarat, including Sardar Patel, to mount an offensive on the Congress. “Rahul Gandhi (Congress vice-president who was recently on a three-day visit to Saurashtra) comes here and seeks answers from us as to what has the BJP done for the state. We are seeking an answer from you (the Congress) for injustices that the three generations of your rule did to us,” the BJP president said.
“While the first generation of the Congress insulted Sardar Patel by not giving him his due recognition and the Bharat Ratna, (former) Congress Prime Minister Indira Gandhi did injustice to Morarji Desai,” Shah said. “The third generation of (Congress leaders) Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have done injustice to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Gujarat seeks answer for that,” he said.
Desai was Deputy Prime Minister under Indira Gandhi before falling out with her. He became the Prime Minister in 1977 when the first non-Congress government was formed after the Emergency.
Shah, while referring to Modi was apparently hinting at the attacks he faced, particularly from the Congress, following the post-Godhra communal riots.
Modi, then Gujarat Chief Minister, had taken out a yatra by the same name before the 2002 Assembly elections.
The second phase of the Gaurav Yatra will start on October 2 from Porbandar, the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi. The Yatra will conclude in Gandhinagar on October 16 with a rally addressed by Modi and Shah.
Before the Gaurav Yatra “chariot” was flagged off, Shah, Rupani, Nitin Patel and other senior BJP leaders addressed a gathering of party workers in Karamsad. However, as soon as, Shah began addressing the party workers, some youths sitting in the middle row started raising slogans, such as “Jai Sardar, Jai Patidar”, to show their support to the Patidar quota agitation. The protesters said they belonged to the Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS).
As chaos ensued, police personnel took away the protesters. Shah appealed the party workers to stay in their seats and said “some limited mischievous elements” were trying to disrupt the event. Hardik later confirmed that the protesters belonged to his outfit. “I have got reports that police have been beating them in custody,” he said.
At the rally, Shah spoke about the ongoing “Vikas Gando Thayo Chhe (Vikas has gone crazy)” social media campaign mocking the BJP government’s claims of development. “The Congress is making fun of development. When the votes are counted, people will make fun of them,” he said.
Alpesh Purohit from Anand, a senate member of Sardar Patel University in Vallabh Vidyanagar and PAAS supporter, said: “I was detained by police along with 12 other workers from PAAS. It is our right to protest and we did it non-violently. Police released 10, but three are in detention.”
Anand SP Saurabh Singh said, “We have detained three youths and are looking for three others. So far, we have not registered any offence…. We are trying to ascertain if there was any criminal conspiracy behind the incident.”
This is second time Shah has been disrupted by Patidar protesters. In September last year, they disrupted an event organised by businessmen to felicitate BJP Patidar leaders and Shah in Surat.