BHOPAL: The first public meeting of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel in the capital of poll-bound Madhya Pradesh turned out to be a flop show on Monday.
A large part of the chairs at the BHEL Dussehra Ground, where Patel addressed a public gathering marking the 388th anniversary of Maratha ruler Chhatrapati Shivaji remained empty.
Several others, including Congress national secretary Kamleshwar Patel and MP State Women Commission chairperson Lata Wankhede also addressed the public gathering.
“When we began our movement in Gujarat, even there only 50-100 people came to hear us, but when we now hold meetings there the number runs into thousands and lakhs. I know some people will be pleased and have sound night sleep tomorrow after reading in the newspapers that this program was a flop show. I’m happy that at least some people can have sound sleep due to me,” said Patel in an oblique attack on the ruling BJP and CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
“I heard that there are around one crore people from Kurmi (Kunbi) and Patidar community in MP, but the numbers present here amply speak about how obstacles have been put to stop them from coming here. Even a Patidar leader was inducted into the council of ministers of MP government a fortnight back on coming to know about my visit,” said Patel, while referring to BJP MLA from Khargone being inducted into the Shivraj Singh Chouhan council of ministers as a minister of state recently.
“We shouldn’t be worried about just 500 people at this gathering, as it’s just a beginning. There are three types of people, intellectuals who speak on what suits their interests, the revolutionaries like me who give sleepless nights to the tainted lot and thirdly those who sit back at their homes and say who cares. It’s due to the third segment of people only that people like Vijay Mallya escape the country after siphoning public funds,” said Patel.
Maintaining that the country houses a 27 crore strong population of Marathas, Patels (Kunbis), Patidars and Gurjars, while MP also houses 1.25 crore of the same population, Patel said this segment of the population will have to become enlightened about their rights and consolidate as a big force.
“I’m hardly disheartened by this gathering and will keep on coming to MP in future also,” said Patel dropping enough hints about his regular tour of MP in coming months. Importantly, assembly polls are slated in MP in November-December this year.
He also questioned why the giant statue of Sardar Patel and Chhatrapati Shivaji was far from being complete in the last 12 years and 2 years in BJP-ruled Gujarat and Maharashtra respectively.
Recently, newly elected Congress MLA and OBC leader from Gujarat Alpesh Thakor had said in Bhopal that he, Patel and Jignesh Mewani will extensively campaign against the BJP government in poll-bound MP.
Earlier on Monday, while interacting with journalists Patel said the real contest in MP was not between Congress and BJP, but instead between BJP and the citizens of the state. He also termed MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan as Shakuni Mama. “In this contest, I’m with people of MP and will keep coming to the state again and again in future.”
He also alleged that efforts were being to prevent him from visiting MP, right since he tried to visit Mandsaur in 2017 to meet families of farmers killed in police firing there, but was detained by police and released in adjoining Rajasthan.