Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah's address to the Patidar community in Gujarat erupted in chaos yesterday, reports say.
In Surat for a programme organised by a diamond merchant, Shah faced the ire of the already aggrieved Patidar community. Chanting the name of their leader Hardik Patel, who is currently serving his bail condition in Udaipur, people disrupted the event by breaking chairs. Initially expected to run till midnight, the proceedings had to end in about an hour and a half, with each of the leaders present speaking only for a few minutes.
Apart from Shah, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, his predecessor Anandiben Patel, BJP state president Jitu Vaghani, Union Ministers Parshottam Rupala and Mansukh Mandaviya and 44 Patidar MLAs of the BJP were present on the occasion, The Indian Express reported. Anandiben Patel was removed by the BJP earlier this year from the position of the CM after she failed to curb agitations by the Patidars.
In his speech, which lasted barely five minutes, Shah pointed out growth of the Patidar community in Gujarat since 1995. "If we see the history of the BJP in Gujarat, the state has developed and even the Patidars have progressed. This shows that the progress of BJP, Gujarat and Patidar community are interconnected," he said, before adding, "I am assuring you that these three will remain linked with each other. I express my gratitude to the community for the contribution made by it for the progress of the party."
His placatory words did not seem to have the desired effect.
Over the last one week, animosities have been deepening between the Patidar Abhivadan Smiti (PAS), which had organised the event, and the Patidar Amanat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), led by Hardik Patel. Till recently, PAS had been supporting Hardik Patel's demand for reservations for the Patidar community, before Mukesh Patel, a PAS leader, put out a video on local television channels yesterday. It showed Hardik Patel's cousin, Ravi Patel, collecting Rs 25 lakh from him purportedly for a Patidar mobilisation event.
As the video went viral, so did reactions to it, reaching a crescendo of anger at Amit Shah on stage. While people at the venue clashed with the police and threw chairs, a large number of protestors were detained at the gate, including PAAS leader Mehsana Reshma Patel, who was held with 15 others. Buses were burnt in Saurashtra as a mob went on a rampage.
Although BJP workers accused the Congress of creating trouble, Hardik Patel's name was taken by the crowd, loud and clear. "The programme went on smoothly, only a handful of unruly elements instigated by the Congress tried to disrupt it," said senior state BJP leader KC Patel, according to NDTV.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal tweeted out photographs of the event, asking if BJP was losing Gujarat.
Scenes from Amit Shah's Surat rally. BJP losing Gujarat? pic.twitter.com/85J9GP4wG4
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) September 8, 2016
Hardik Patel hasn't commented so far on the incident.
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