Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel on Monday emphasised the need for communities to be united ahead of Gujarat polls and dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce the election dates instead of visiting the state to inaugurate projects that “city mayors should”. He was speaking at the Adhikar Sammelan in Mandal town of Ahmedabad district.
Hardik was scheduled to meet Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in Ahmedabad, but could not as he was busy in Mandal. AICC general secretary and party’s Gujarat affairs in-charge Ashok Gehlot did meet Hardik in the afternoon and reportedly discussed plans for the PAAS leader’s meeting with Rahul in the next few days. “Since morning, the media is speculating about me meeting Rahul. Yes, I received an invitation yesterday, and I met senior Congress leaders to ask them how they plan to resolve our issues. It was important for me to meet them before meeting Rahul. I did not meet Rahul,” Hardik said in Mandal.
Without naming Modi, Hardik said, “He came here 15 times in two months. He is on a repeat mode saying, ‘We are getting 150 (seats); we will bring 150 (seats)’…I dare him to announce the elections. In one day, the results will be out.”
On the PM inaugurating projects in Vadodara, Hardik said, “Previously, PMs would inaugurate only big ticket projects like an airport, grand infrastructure… But yesterday, he came to Vadodara — remember, the PM came to Vadodara to inaugurate a few bridges… I don’t even know the names of the bridges… The city mayor was miffed… These were projects the mayor should have inaugurated.”
Emphasising that people should unite across castes and religions, Hardik accused BJP of inciting disharmony. “As polls approach, these people will fan communal discord. Don’t fall into their trap… We must pledge that despite all that has happened — yes, vikas has gone mad; yes, they took away my leaders, but no problem — we will overthrow them.”
Ex-Hardik aide Sawani quits BJP
Nikhil Sawani, former Surat co-convener of PAAS, quit the BJP Monday, alleging that the party had done nothing for the community. He had joined the BJP three weeks ago. “I had differences with Hardik Patel, but my goal was to give justice to my community and I kept hope that the BJP government would do it… But BJP failed, so I have decided to leave the party,” Sawani told The Indian Express. He also met Rahul Gandhi in Gandhinagar on Monday.