In a stern message to the Gujarat government, the Patel community today held a massive rally here to press for their demand for OBC status and warned that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will not be able to return to power in 2017 if they are not given reservation.
Campaign leader Hardik Patel, in a hard-hitting speech, said if the government ignored the demand of the community, the BJP in Gujarat will face consequences in the polls and “lotus will not bloom”.
Hardik Patel, who has imparted momentum and virulence to the struggle as leader of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, also threated to go on hunger strike at the venue till Chief Minister Anandiben Patel turns up and takes the memorandum from the outfit.
As members of the numerically strong and economically influential community of Gujarat poured in large numbers for the “Maha Kranti” rally, the city to came to a grinding halt for hours.
“If you do not give us our right (reservation), we will snatch it. Whoever will talk of interest of Patels will rule over Patels,” Hardik told the gathering.
“In 1985, we had uprooted Congress from Gujarat, today there is BJP. 2017 (assembly polls) is coming… lotus will not bloom in the mud, it will never bloom. If you will talk about our interest then only we will nurture your lotus,” he said.
Patels have declined to call off the agitation despite Anandiben Patel expressing her inability to accord the OBC status to the community, citing the Supreme Court guidelines and judgements on the issue.
“Some parties say you do not know about Supreme Court guidelines (of 50 per cent cap on reservations), this cannot happen. If Supreme Court can open at 3.30 in the morning for a terrorist, then why not for the youth, the future of this nation?” Hardik said amid thunderous applause by the crowd.
The protest, however, triggered clashes various parts of the city as police baton-charged and lobbed teargas shells to control the situation, officials said.
Clashes between Patel community members and local residents were also reported from Vadaj, Vastrapur, Nikol and Paldi areas when they allegedly tried to enforce a bandh called by the agitating outfit.
In Vadaj, where Patels tried to enforce a bandh, local residents belonging to Dalit community resisted the move, resulting in clashes and stone-pelting between the two communities, police said.
“Police lobbed a tear-gas shell and also baton-charged crowd when two groups of Patels and Dalits clashed with each other,” city control room’s police inspector D R Dhamal said.
The protesters allegedly vandalised shops and buses in the area near Vadaj Police chowk and later had a scuffle with Dalit community members, Dhamal said.
Sporadic clashes were also reported in Vastrapur, Paldi and Nikol areas of the city after protesters from Patel community used force to shut down shops.