Patidar quota leader from Gujarat Hardik Patel on Tuesday said he was in the city to “pay tribute” to late Balasaheb Thackeray and “not to be part” of the campaign for February 21 Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls. “I am here to say Jai Maharashtra and pay tribute to late Balasaheb Thackeray whom I liked and respected but could not meet him as I was very young (when he passed away). I am not here to campaign for Shiv Sena for the Mumbai civic polls,” he said on the sidelines of an event in suburban Goregaon.
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When asked why he was suddenly remembering Balasaheb, Patel said, “Enemy’s enemy is a natural friend” (in an apparent reference to BJP as his and Shiv Sena’s enemy). “Myself and members of the Patidar community will extend our support to Shiv Sena in Gujarat. It will be a friendly gesture,” he said.
“Since many members from Gujarati community in Mumbai are associated with my movement it was their long-time wish to felicitate me in the city,” Patel said.
He alleged that the state government machinery tried to derail his visit by arm twisting methods.
“This is in the blood of BJP-ruled states to use official machinery against its rivals,” Patel alleged.
He said he was supporting march by members of Marathas seeking reservation for the community.
Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai attended the meeting and said he and Uddhav Thackeray were very much “impressed” by the way the young leader carried forward his “fight” for reservation to the community.