In an apparent bid to win the sympathy of agitating Patel community ahead of assembly polls, Gujarat Congress today announced formation of a body with an aim to provide them “support and guidance”. The body ‘Patidar Daman Pratikar Samiti’ has been floated by Congress leader Siddharth Patel and others.
Local Congress leaders, however, claimed that the body is a non-political movement initiated by the community itself while Congress is only backing it. Earlier today, several Congress leaders and MLAs attended the first gathering of the samiti in Ghatlodia area of the city.
The development came a day after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi expressed sympathy with the Patel community during his speech at Dediapada in Narmada district. Those who attended the convention included former Gujarat Congress chief Siddharth Patel.
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Several Congress MLAs belonging to Patel community, such as Raghavji Patel and Tejashreeben Patel, too shared their views with the invited guests.
Siddharth Patel accused the BJP government in Gujarat of treating Patel youths as “terrorists”.
“This BJP government arrests innocent Patel youths whenever Prime Minister or Chief Minister are visiting any part of the state. The government is treating our people as if they are terrorists,” Patel told reporters after the meeting.
Nitin Patel, a local Congress leader and organiser of today’s meeting, claimed that the party is only backing this body.
“This is purely a non-political body aimed at supporting and guiding our youth, as they are subjected to atrocities by the government every now and then.
“Apart from Congress leaders, others, who are concerned about the current situation, also attended today’s programme,” said Nitin.
“This body will work towards bringing the community under one umbrella to fight against the atrocities. We want to give a clear message that Patels will not bow down. In coming days, we will form district-wise committees and call similar convention to spread the message,” he added.