Teach the BJP a lesson, Hardik tells Patidars

Poornima Joshi Bela village (Morbi) | Updated on January 27, 2018 Published on November 29, 2017

Less than 10 km from Prime Minister Modi’s rally in Morbi, Hardik Patel mimicked the former’s oratorical skills to woo the Patidar crowd   -  PTI

Patel leader challenges Modi, alleges crowd support for PM is manufactured

Within ten kilometres and two hours of Narendra Modi declaring his puraana naata (old relationship) with this ceramics town in Saurashtra on Wednesday, Patidar leader Hardik Patel was on the Prime Minister’s trail, mocking the emotional connect and egging his community to “teach the BJP a lesson this time”.

Hardik and his Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) are doing what Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi alone would have not been able to manage in the Gujarat election campaign — challenging the Prime Minister on his home turf in the same tone and jargon.

While young Hardik leads the campaign, his PAAS comrades, like the elderly Jagabhai Baba and Thanjibhai Patel, mimic the PM on stage and repeat that “Modi is the teller of tall tales”.

The young leader, an energetic campaigner and orator, seems to be literally tracking Modi in this heated campaign, mimicking him and ridiculing his arguments within moments of them being made. He is especially effective in Saurashtra where the Patidars dominate and rural distress is high. His “ chai pe charcha”, a mocking adaptation of the PM’s campaign methods in Bela, saw huge numbers attend, especially the owners of ceramic factories and local farmers, a majority of whom were Patels. Hardik did not disappoint as mounted the stage with swagger and began on a sarcastic note.

“We hear that he (Modi) has declared a puraana naata (old relationship) with this town. Very soon, I am sure we will also hear that he has worked in one of these ceramic factories,” he said as the crowd cheered. “Today, he (Modi) has collected labourers from these factories for his rally; every factory owner was asked to send their workers or face consequences. I say, have some shame,” he said.

In the crowd, Hitesh Patel, the owner of a factory himself, nodded vigorously. “We were told that Pollution Board officials would be sent to our factory premises on December 2. So I sent 25 workers for Modi’s rally in Morbi. None of them are voters here,” he told BusinessLine.

Meanwhile, Hardik told people to “stay the course” on issues of political economy such as GST, demonetisation, joblessness and rural wages, and crop prices, as a storm rises in Gujarat over whether Rahul Gandhi signed as a non-Hindu in the Somnath temple.

“They (the BJP) say we are fools. And they are right. For 23 years (sic) we elected them despite not getting a decent price for our groundnut, cotton, not getting education health facilities, not getting jobs or roads in rural areas. All you see in the media are highways. They don’t talk about rural roads. They don’t exist. And we elected them for 22 years. Has any BJP MLA from Morbi asked even 22 questions about the real situation in Morbi?,” said Patel.

He asked the crowd to “vote and campaign for political change” and they all raised hands.

“I don’t hold a brief for the Congress. I don’t know whether they will find solutions to our problems. But you throw them out in five years. But let us not continue for 20 years. This time, teach them (BJP) a lesson,” said he.

Published on November 29, 2017
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