Patidar reservation agitation leader Hardik Patel to seek PM’s appointment during his Surat visit

Hardik Patel
Hardik Patel congratulates Congress for its emergence as strong opposition to BJP in Gujarat.

Ahmedabad, April 07: Patidar reservation stir leader Hardik Patel will try to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Surat on April 17, to raise the unresolved issues concerning his community.

“Despite making several representations to the Gujarat Government in the past about various issues of the Patel community, there is still no solution forthcoming,” Hardik stated in a message circulated to the media on Thursday.

“Since the Prime Minister is coming to Surat, I will meet the Collector to seek PM’s time during his visit, so that I can make a representation to him about these issues,” he said.

Hardik’s close aide Alpesh Kathiria said the former would meet the Surat district collector tomorrow in bid to get an appointment with the Prime Minister.

Modi is scheduled to visit Gujarat on April 17 to inaugurate various projects, including a hospital in Surat, a cattle feed plant in Tapi district and “Sauni” project in Botad district of Saurashtra region.

The Kiran Hospital in Surat is built by Samast Patidar Aarogya Trust, a trust formed by the prominent businessmen belonging to Patidar community of Surat.

Since his return to Gujarat in January this year after the six-month exile imposed on him by the High Court as part of his bail condition in sedition cases, Hardik has been trying to revive the quota stir by addressing rallies in different parts of the state.

Apart from the core issue of reservation for Patels under OBC quota, Hardik has taken up other issues like seeking loan waiver for farmers, unemployment etc. He also vowed to get justice for a woman who was allegedly gang raped in Bhavnagar district.

Hardik had remained highly critical of the BJP government in the past.

In his first rally after returning to Gujarat in January, he had appealed to Patels to unitedly fight against prevailing “autocracy” in the state, an oblique reference to ruling BJP.

He had asked his community members to be prepared for the repeat of the “GMDC-like dangal” (fight), a reference to his 2015 rally that had galvanized Patels across the state.

As Gujarat is going to polls later this year, the BJP government has been trying hard to solder its fractured ties with the Patel community, considered as loyal voters of the BJP.

Hardik had earlier slammed the Centre for demonetization, claiming it only increased the hardships of the common man. He had also met Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in Patna last year.

He had called on Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray at the latter’s residence in Mumbai in February this year.

Interestingly, Thackeray, whose party is at loggerheads with the ruling ally BJP despite being an NDA partner, had announced that Hardik will be Sena’s face in the poll-bound Gujarat.

Hardik had brought a churn in Gujarat politics when he galvanized Patels in Modi’s home state and led them in massive agitations, marked by violent clashes between the police and the Patel community members, in 2015.

He was subsequently booked in two cases of sedition by the police.