Gujarat elections: Hardik Patel to campaign against Vijay Rupani in Rajkot
New Delhi: Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Aandolan Samiti (PAAS) is all set to take the fight to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the upcoming Gujarat elections as it plans to campaign against chief minister Vijay Rupani in areas traditionally known to be BJP strongholds.
Patel is scheduled to hold 10 public meetings over the next fortnight in key Saurashtra areas including a mega public meeting in Rajkot on Wednesday, followed by stops in Morbi, Somnath, Junagadh, and Himmatnagar.
The announcement of the public meetings come days after PAAS formally announced its support to the Congress party and accepted its Patel reservation formula. Even though the organization maintains that the meetings will be held under the PAAS banner, Patel’s move could boost Congress’s chances in a direct contest with the BJP.
PAAS, which drew thousands of supporters, particularly youth, during the Patidar agitation for reservation in 2015, is working to make Wednesday’s rally a success. The public meeting, called ‘Mahakranti’ (great revolution), will take place in Rajkot (West), from where Rupani is contesting the Gujarat elections.
“We are going to call everyone who supports our cause, Congress and other political parties as well as social activists and community leaders to attend the meeting but it is a public meeting of Hardik Patel under PAAS,” said Manoj Panara, PAAS spokesperson and convener of Morbi district.
The Rajkot rally will be Patel’s first big public meeting in the ongoing election campaign, and PAAS is targeting a turnout of over 100,000 supporters. A number of posters with Hardik Patel’s photo alongside those of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Chhatrapati Shivaji have come up in and around Rajkot. The message in Gujarati talks about how the “war cry” has been sounded and exhorts “fighters” and “bravehearts” to take up the fight.
The public meeting will take place at Nana Mauva Circle in the city that PAAS leaders say is at the trijunction of three assembly seats: Rajkot (West), Rajkot (South) and Rajkot (Rural).
“There is a huge Patel population in all three seats. We are spreading the message through social media and other means to ask more and more people to come and join the meeting. We want to highlight that Rajkot has given the state three chief ministers but it has always been ignored. This rally is being held to expose the ruling BJP in the state,” said Hemang Patel, another PAAS spokesperson and convener of Rajkot district.
Details of the other public meetings are still being worked out and PAAS leaders say they will be centred around the Patel reservation demand.
The Gujarat elections are slated to be held in two phases on 9 and 14 December while the results will be declared on 18 December.