Ahmedabad: In a mega show of strength for their demand, members of the Patel community organised a mega rally in the heart of Gujarat on Tuesday demanding reservations under the Other Backward Caste (OBC) quota.
Addressing a massive gathering, convener of `Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti' Hardik Patel, who is leading the agitation, a `Maha-Kranti Rally' announced that the Lotus will not blossom in 2017 if the Patel community is not placed under the OBC status.
"In 1985, we had uprooted Congress from Gujarat, today there is BJP. 2017 (state election year) is coming...Lotus will not bloom in the mud, it will never bloom. If you will talk about our interest then only we will nurture your lotus," he said, warning the state government.
The Patel community is considered to be politically and economically powerful and a votebank of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
22-year-old Hardik Patel, who has taken Gujarat politics by storm, said his community people are not beggars and are fighting for their right.
Further raising his pitch for OBC quota, Hardik threatened to launch the agitation to other parts of the country.
He spoke about how India stands on three pillars; the Indian Army, the farmer and labourers. Talking about farmer suicides he said, "Political parties say that a farmer's death is his own responsibility. 6000 farmers died in Gujarat. Who'll take the responsibility? If any more farmers die, it won't be good for either Gujarat or India."
He also mentioned the lack of initiative by the government in resolving the reservation issue. Patel asked, "If the Supreme Court can open at 3:30 am in the morning to decide the fate of a terrorist, then why not for the youth and the future of this nation?"
"If you do not give our right (reservation), we will snatch it. Whoever will talk of interest of Patels will rule over Patels," Hardik told the gathering.
"If the country's youth come on the streets to demand their right and if they do not get those rights, some of them will become Naxalites, some of them will become terrorists," he exhorted.
In view of Patel community leaders' call for 'bandh' today and the government's decision to declare some of the main roads as 'no-go' areas are likely to bring the commercial capital of Gujarat to a grinding halt. The city police has also requested the local residents here not to leave their houses unless there is an emergency.
The BJP government in Gujarat has ruled out the possibility of placing the Patel community in the reservation category.
It has issued a full page advertisement in leading newspapers of the state in this regard.
Chief Minister Anandiben Patel has also issued similar audio-visual message on the electronic media.
In a bullet-point advertisement, the state government had said the 1992 Supreme Court verdict limits reservation provision only up to 50 percent in any state.
According to advertisement, Gujarat has 27 percent reservation for OBCs and 15 percent and 7 percent for STs and SCs respectively.