JAMNAGAR/NEW DELHI: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi invoked Sardar Patel as he travelled through Patidar-dominated areas of Saurashtra on Tuesday, seeking to court the Patel community, a section of which is up in arms against Gujarat’s BJP government. Hitting out at the state government on the second day of his tour, Rahul accused it of perpetrating atrocities on the Patels during their quota agitation.
“It was you (the Patel community) who gave the country Sardar Patel. But the BJP government committed atrocities on you. Bullets were fired on Patels. This is not the style of the Congress. We believe in moving ahead by keeping all the communities together,” Rahul said.
On his arrival at Dhrol town en route to Rajkot, Rahul sported the ‘Patidar cap’, which had the slogan “Jai Sardar-Jai Patidar” written on it. It was given to him by the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), an organisation of the politically influential Patel community led by Hardik Patel.
Ironically, Rahul’s attack on the BJP came on a day when the state government invited quota protest leaders to the state capital to hammer out a compromise formula ahead of the year-end polls in Gujarat.
After his speech at Dhrol, Rahul stopped for a while at Latipur and Otala village, where he stepped up his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his government’s policies. “As the PM, it is your job to give employment and solve problems of the country. If you can’t, then the Congress will do that after coming to power,” Rahul said.
Alongside his campaign in Gujarat, Rahul has also been doing some temple-hopping. He prayed at the Lord Krishna temple in Dwarka before launching his poll yatra on Monday and is slated to visit the Shree Khodaldham temple in Kagvad in district Rajkot on Wednesday.
According to AICC sources, the temple visits have been carefully planned to send a positive message to the voters who have been under BJP rule for 19 years. The sources said Rahul had visited both temples and mosques during yatras ahead of the Uttar Pradesh elections to project the secular image of the Congress.