As the spectre of Patidar quota stir looms over his electoral fortune in Mehsana constituency, Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Nitin Patel on Saturday urged the Patidar community to support him in winning the election, saying “the entire country has eyes on Gujarat (election) and Gujarat has its eyes on Mehsana”.
“Everybody is asking me about Mehsana because it all (Patidar quota agitation) started from here…So, let us work with a determination to end it from here at the earliest,” Nitin Patel, who is also a Patidar, told a gathering of his community members here, a day after he was re-nominated by the BJP to contest from Mehsana.
“Today, every community is supporting the BJP because everybody respects our government’s performance…I am like a family member to you. Now, when every community is supporting me, (how would it be fair if) my own community does not support me… my community first…in fact, my community should take a lead (in supporting me),” he told the gathering comprising Patidars from Mehsana and outside areas.
Mehsana is among the 70-odd constituencies of Gujarat where Patidar community holds the key to electoral success. Patidars constitute about 28 per cent of the population of Mehsana constituency. The place has been an epicentre of the Patidar quota stir, spearheaded by Hardik Patel under the banner of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), and it witnessed largescale violence in 2015 when the agitation was at its peak.
Nitin Patel lambasted both PAAS and Congress, accusing the two of using each other for their individual gains.
The Deputy CM said that the talks between PAAS and Congress are not on giving reservation to Patidars, but on distribution of tickets for Assembly elections.
“Our community should not prove gullible this time,” Patel said, adding that the “PAAS stands exposed”. “Many of their leaders like Ketan Patel and Chirag Patel, who also spent seven months in jail under sedition charge, are now with BJP,” he added.
Patel also reminded the gathering that it was Madhavsinh Solanki, former chief minister and father of state Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki, who led the government that “killed 58 youths” during the quota stir of 1980s.
He also accused the Congress of having ‘anti-Gujarat’ and ‘anti-Gujarati’ mindset.
Before addressing the gathering, a bike rally was organised in which around 2,000 to 3,000 bikers took part.