Vadodara: Seizing on the famous "56-inch- chest" phrase of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, leader of Gujarat's Patel community spearheading the agitation for OBC status on Friday said that the Patels have "56-inch chest" and will press ahead with their stir till the goal is achieved.
"Patels in Gujarat have 56-inch chests and know how to make government oblige to them on their demands", said Hardik Patel, leader of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) while addressing a huge gathering of around 1.5 lakh members of the community at Navlakhi compound here.
"We are not connected with any political party and we are firm for inclusion of the community in OBC quota," he said.
Hardik said, if necessary the form of agitation would be made more virulent in the coming days.
"First we would follow the path shown by (Mahatma) Gandhiji and Sardar (Vallabhbhai) Patel, but if required we can become Bhagat Singh and Chandrashekhar (Azad) too," he said.
Hardik, who has become the face of the agitation, latched onto the "56-inch" phrase used extensively by Narendra Modi in run-up to Lok Sabha elections to assert the outfit's resolve to agitate till the demand was met.
He also demanded five per cent reservation for farm labourers belonging to Patel community who do not have own land and whose names do not appear on the revenue record under the Special Backward Class (SBC) quota.
Patel community outfit has been organising rallies in various parts of the state for over a month to press for reservation in government jobs and education under OBC quota. Its leaders said they are planning a rally, which will be the bigger than today's, in Ahmedabad on August 25.
"The 50-day-old agitation of Patels is getting an overwhelming response from entire community which is determined to get their demands accepted by government," he claimed.
He said the community decided to launch the struggle after many youths approached him and also some leaders citing their failure in securing admission in government colleges despite having good scores and getting jobs.
According to Hardik, unlike Gujarat, Patels are known by different surnames in other states, like Kurmis who are classified as OBCs or SCs.
Hardik also took part in the massive rally wherein members of the community rode bikes, trucks and tractors to reach the district collector's office to submit a memorandum for their demand.
The state government had formed a seven-member committee headed by Health minister Nitin Patel to hold dialogue with various communities on the issue.