AHMEDABAD: In a mega show of strength to push their demand for inclusion in OBC category for reservation, the Patel community today warned the BJP government in Gujarat that it will face consequences in 2017 Assembly polls if the plea is not accepted, saying the "lotus" will not bloom again.
The warning was sounded by 22-year-old Hardik Patel, the convener of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti which is spearheading the agitation, at a rally here even as the stir turned violent with clashes being reported in various parts of the city where police resorted to baton-charge and lobbed teargas shells to control the situation. After the rally, Patel said he will sit on a hunger strike at the venue till the Chief Minister (Anandiben Patel) does not come to take a memorandum from them.
The numerically and economically strong Patel community of Gujarat converged here in large numbers to take part in the rally, which brought the city to a grinding halt. The 'Maha Kranti' rally comes after a month-long agitation by the Patel community for their quota demand, "If you do not give 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 (state election year) 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, warning the state government. Lotus is BJP party symbol.
Patels are unrelenting even though the chief minister has expressed her inability to include the community in the OBC category and requested the leaders to end the agitation and come forward for negotiations. The CM had cited Supreme Court guidelines and judgements for her inability to include Patels in the OBC category.
"Some parties say you do not not know about Supreme Court guidelines (of 50 per cent cap on reservations), this cannot happen. If SC can open at 3.30 in the morning for a terrorist, then why not for the youth the future of this nation?" Hardik Patel said amidst cheers from the crowd. "If the country's youth come on the streets to demand their right and if they do not get those rights, some of them will become Naxalites, some of them will become terrorists."
Clashes between Patel community members and local residents were reported in Vadaj, Vastrapur, Nikol and Paldi areas when they tried to enforce a bandh called by Hardik Patel after their mega rally. In Vadaj area, when groups of Patel community members on scooters and bikes tried to enforce the bandh, local residents of dalit community resisted which resulted 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 of Patel community allegedly vandalised shops and buses in the area near Vadaj Police chowky and later had a scuffle with Dalit community members, Dhamal said.
According to another police official, several clashes were reported in Vastrapur, Paldi and Nikol areas of the city after protesters from Patel community used force to shut down the open shops. Reports have also come that some miscreants damaged window panes of city buses at various places.