Patels to hold rally tomorrow, call for city bandh

Ahead of the mass gathering of Patel community members here tomorrow to press for their demand of OBC quota, their leaders on Monday said they will also take out a ‘Maha Kranti Rally’ to the district Collector’s office even if police does not grant permission for it. The community leaders also called for a city bandh tomorrow in view of their proposed rally.

According to the convener of ‘Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti’ Hardik Patel, who is leading the agitation demanding reservation for Patels under OBC quota, the ‘Maha-Kranti Rally’ will be organised after the mass gathering at GMDC ground, where at least 25 lakh people of Patel community are expected to take part.

The announcement to organise a rally after the mass gathering may come as a surprise to administrators as till yesterday there was no application made to take out the rally, but only the mass public meeting. “Our community members will start arriving at the venue from 8 AM onwards to take part in the mass gathering at GMDC ground. The gathering will be addressed by our leaders at around 11.30 AM. After that, we will take out our ‘Maha-Kranti Rally’ to hand over memorandum to the district Collector,” Patel said during a press conference here. “We expect that at least 25 lakh people would attend the gathering and rally. Thus, to avoid any inconvenience to locals, we have called for a complete ‘bandh’ of city as well as of Gujarat. I appeal to authorities to close schools, colleges and other businesses tomorrow,” said Patel.

Yesterday, Joint Commissioner of Police (Special Branch) Vikas Sahay had clearly stated that the permission was given only for the gathering at GMDC ground and not for the rally, as the samiti had not applied for it till yesterday. However, turning the tables on the police, Patel on Monday claimed that the rally is very much on their agenda. “We will apply for permission for the maha rally today. I am sure that the police will cooperate and give us permission. Even if they don’t give permission, we will definitely organise the rally,” Hardik said.

The proposed rally will pass through one of the most busiest areas of western part of city and cover almost 7 km, before ending at Collector’s office near RTO circle. According to Patel, the rally will commence from GMDC ground and then reach the Sardar Patel cross roads in Navrangpura via Helmate cross roads and Commerce Six Roads. He said that the rally will not be cancelled at any cost.

On the option of Collector coming to the ground to accept the memorandum, Patel said, “It may not look good on our part to trouble the Collector by calling him at the ground. Thus, we will take out the rally till his office. After reaching there, some of our members will personally hand over the memorandum at his office.”

Commenting on Chief Minister Anandiben Patel’s message as well as advertisements in media where she indicated that the state government is unable to give reservation due to past Supreme Court verdicts, Hardik gave an example of midnight verdict by Supreme Court on 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict Yakub Memon’s mercy plea. “If the Supreme Court can be opened during midnight for a terrorist (Yakub Memon), then why not for the uplift of millions of youth? I refuse to accept CM’s claim. Acts can be changed by Supreme Court as well as the Parliament if the government wants,” he said.

Asked if he thinks that the Chief Minister is afraid of losing the power due to agitation, Hardik said it might be possible. “I have not read her mind, but it is obvious that she might be afraid of losing the power due to the agitation.” He also clarified that no RSS leader has approached him to discuss the ongoing issue or to become a mediator on behalf of the state government.

When asked to reveal about the future of the agitation after tomorrow’s proposed rally, Patel said, “This is a marathon run, not a 100 meter run. Wait for tomorrow’s rally, where we will announce our future road map.”