Kankodakoi (Guj): Firing a fresh salvo against Narendra Modi, veteran BJP leader Keshubhai Patel on Sunday asked the people to beware of "braggarts" and bring about a change in the next assembly elections, while heaping praise on Modi-detractor Sanjay Joshi for his "dedication" to the party.
"Nobody can lock my mouth and stop me from expressing my views under the guise of party discipline as enough is enough and I will not keep my mouth shut," said the BJP leader who has been vocal since last few months against Modi and had even stayed away from the two-day state executive meeting held in Rajkot ahead of assembly elections later this year.
Addressing `Adivasi Adhikar Jagran` rally at Kankodakoi village in Panchmahals district, organised by a social organisation affiliated to Maha-Gujarat Janta Party of former BJP leader Gordhan Zadafia, Patel said that "one should beware of Lanpot Sankh". (a Gujarati proverb meaning person who gives false promises or brags).
Without taking Modi`s name, Patel urged 82 lakh-strong tribal population in the state to bring around a change in Gujarat in the next assembly elections due later this year.
Further whipping up anti-Modi sentiment, Patel criticised the treatment meted out the chief minister`s bete noire Sanjay Joshi from the party.
"Joshi who is committed and dedicated party worker should not have been treated in such humiliating manner," he said.
A former RSS pracharak and BJP general secretary Joshi resigned from the party on Friday apparently after the party top brass showed him the door at the behest of Modi.
Patel had said that people of Gujarat and especially his community (Patels) were living under fear in Modi`s rule.
Ever since his unceremonious removal from power and Modi replacing him in 2001, Patel has come out openly against him only in the run up to the 2012 state elections.
Patel has been directly attacking Modi over his style of functioning and accused his government of discriminating against tribals.
Former chief minister Suresh Mehta and former union textile minister Kashiram Rana also slammed the Modi government and accused it of cheating the people of the state.
Patel said he wanted to know how much amount has been
spent under Rs 15,000 crore Vanbandhu scheme meant for welfare of tribal community, which was announced by Modi government.
He charged that tribal welfare schemes like "Kuvarben nu mameru" (Gujarat govt giving cash assistance of Rs 5000 to poor tribal girls getting married) among other schemes have been scrapped by Modi government.
Patel said that five colleges opened in tribal areas during his tenure for enabling tribal students to pursue higher studies have been closed down.
"Not only that 12 science schools opened in rural areas of the state for enabling tribal students to be engineers and doctors during my rule have been handed over to private bodies who charge exorbitant fees and tribals students find it difficult to pursue higher studies in science," Patel said.
"I had given forest land titles to 54,000 tribals for tilling from 1995 to 2001 before enactment of forest tribal act by the Centre in 2006," he said.
Patel criticised Modi government for rolling out "red carpet" for Tata`s small car Nano plant in Sanand and handing over 1.5 lakh hectares of village grazing land to industrialists in the state.
He accused the state government of "discriminating" against the tribals from Panchmahals, Narmada and Vadodara districts in supplying water to them from Narmada river.
He dismissed as "farce" the Garib Kalyan Melas held across the state, alleging that a huge amount of tax payers money was spent in organising them.
Alleging that law and order situation is worsening each passing day in the state, Patel said police are falsely implicating tribal leaders in various crimes.
On education front, as many as 18 lakh students have dropped out from primary schools during Modi`s ten year rule, he said.
Patel alleged that forest minister Mangubhai Patel and BJP MLAs from Panchmahals district tried to sabotage his rally by preventing tribals from attending it.
Former chief minister Suresh Mehta, who was one of the chief guests at the rally, said, "Why there is no announcement on continuation of the Rs 15000 crore Vanbandhu Kalyan Scheme which expired early this year?
"Gujarat Government is cheating members of tribals community by announcing Vanbanhu Kalyan scheme as it is mandatory to spend prescribed amount of the budget under this scheme," he said demanding hiking the corpus of the scheme to Rs 19,000 crore.
Another chief guest and former union textile minister Kashiram Rana alleged that as many as 10,000 posts in various government departments reserved under ST category are occupied by candidates belonging to general category in contravention of rules, while 67 per cent posts reserved for SC candidates are still lying vacant.
Gordhan Zadafia president of the Maha Gujarat Janta Party (MJP) said that the administration tried to create obstacles in holding the rally.
Former education minister Nalin Bhatt, coordinator of Din Dayal Seva Samiti, also accused Modi of turning into a "dictator" and "harassing" those who oppose him.