Interview | National

People have made up their mind to vote out BJP, says Hardik Patel

Nobody is happy with the ruling party... there are no jobs for youth, farmers are crying, says the young Patidar leader

In the 2017 Gujarat Assembly poll campaign, if there is one crowd puller, it’s not Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. It’s 24-year-old Hardik Patel, spearheading the Patidar quota agitation under the banner of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS). Mr. Patel is in the thick of things, traversing the State, crisscrossing one district after another, holding road shows, rallies and meetings targeting the BJP. In this interview with The Hindu, Mr. Patel talks about the coming Assembly elections and the present mood in the State.

What is the mood you sense in your rallies in Gujarat?

I see a very positive mood that wants change in Gujarat. The people of the State are fed up and now want to end this draconian rule of the BJP. Nobody is happy with the ruling party here: be it farmers, students, women, daily wagers, businessmen, traders or entrepreneurs. And that is the reason large numbers of people are turning up at our campaign meetings and rallies; the people have made up their mind to vote out this government.

But the BJP leaders say the crowds may not convert into votes and that the Congress is funding your campaign

If that’s the case, then why is the BJP so rattled? If the BJP leaders think this crowd will not vote against the party, then why do its leaders sound so worried.

The BJP has lost the plot and may level allegations but the fact is the people are coming to our rallies everywhere. Not only in Patidar pockets, even in tribal pockets, people are coming because they are fed up with the BJP rule. And so far as funding is concerned, I have repeatedly said the ruling party has a ₹5,000-crore budget for this poll. I said earlier that a ₹1,200 crore offer was made but I rejected it and instead decided to fight for my community and the people of Gujarat.

What is your main mission in this election besides quota?

My main mission is to end this personality cult (Vyakti Puja) in politics. Sardar Patel was against vyakti puja. I want to follow in his footsteps. I want to make people aware about their rights and once they become aware, they will stop following and worshipping cult leaders.

Are you confident that the election results will reflect the change that you sense in your rallies?

Yes, I am confident of that. As I said, not one section is happy with the government here except a tiny one which benefited from the BJP’s crony model.

There are no jobs for youth, farmers are crying for better prices for their produce and longer power supply, the law and order situation has worsened, and education is expensive.

They talk about infrastructure but you visit any town and city and see the conditions of internal roads. Change is inevitable to end this corrupt BJP regime.

After your successful rally in Chief Minister Vijay Rupani’s constituency Rajkot West, the government filed an FIR against you. The Election Commission wants to investigate who is funding your campaign. What is your comment?

I am telling you categorically that to win this election, the BJP can go to any extent and can stoop to any low. I am not surprised at the new FIR or new probe or new case. I have been facing it since 2015 when I launched the agitation for quota. They put me in jail, they filed cases for things I never did. They tried to indulge in character assassination. They have paid money to several of our leaders and volunteers. I just want to ask why so much hatred for me? Am I not the son of Gujarat? Look at the language the BJP leaders have used against me. No matter what they do, the fact remains that their Gujarat model stands exposed.

People now know that there are no jobs; farmers are distressed; a large number of people can’t afford to buy even a two-bedroom flat in cities like Ahmedabad or Surat.

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Printable version | Jul 14, 2020 12:13:36 PM |

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