Asserting that defeating the BJP in Gujarat is his prime aim, quota agitation leader Hardik Patel today hinted that he may consider supporting the Congress in the Assembly polls to reach the goal.
The 23-year-old quota agitation spearhead accused the state government of dilly-dallying on the issue of granting reservation to the Patel community under OBC quota. Hardik, who leads the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), said he would work to defeat the BJP in the state Assembly polls due later this year, if the state government does not come up with a firm assurance over the quota issue at the earliest.
“Despite making numerous representations regarding our demands, including for reservation, during the last two years, the BJP government has not given any assurance,” Hardik told mediapersons here today. “We want the government to make its stand clear on reservation at the earliest,” he said. “I want to tell them that our agitation is still very much alive and it will gain momentum in the days to come. We are now planning to make sure that the party, which is dreaming of winning 150 seats, does not go beyond 80 seats in the polls,” Hardik said.
Of the total 182 seats in state assembly, the BJP presently has a majority with 121 seats while the main Opposition party, the Congress, has 57 seats. “These polls will not be a battle between just the BJP and the Congress. It will be an election wherein farmers, youths, women, Patels and Dalits will fight the BJP. “We have also kept our options open to supporting the Congress if they promise to fulfil our demands after winning the polls,” he said. The demands include reservation to the Patels under the OBC quota, formation of Patidar Commission, compensation to the families of at least 10 Patel youths who died during the quota violence in 2015 and withdrawal of FIRs against the agitators.
Divulging his plans to defeat the BJP, Hardik said a mega gathering of PAAS workers has been planned on June 11 in the city. “Around 50,000 PAAS workers from over 7,000 villages will converge here on June 11. During that gathering, they will be briefed about carrying out a campaign across Gujarat against the BJP for the next six months,” he said. To raise the issue of “injustice to the community” by the ruling BJP, Hardik also announced holding a rally, ‘Nyay Yatra’, from Botad to neighbouring Bhavnagar town on May 20 and May 21. “This yatra, which would commence from Botad on May 20, would pass through nearly 50 villages and converge at Bhavnagar on May 21. Our aim is to raise the issue of injustice to our community, farmers and women,” Hardik said.