Patidar businessmen in Surat will organise an event on September 8 to felicitate senior BJP leaders, including the party president Amit Shah, Gujarat unit chief Jitu Vaghani, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and his deputy Nitin Patel, in an apparent effort to build bridges between the community and the saffron party a year before the Assembly elections.
In the wake of the quota agitation by the Patidars, the ruling BJP had suffered heavy electoral losses in the local body elections last year after the community, considered to be the party’s loyal voters, withdrew the support.
The event, being organised by newly-formed Patidar Abhivadan Samiti under the stewardship of businessman Mahesh Sawani, will be held at P P Savani school grounds in Varachha, a Patidar-dominated locality in Surat. Businessmen Pankaj Sidhpara and Mukesh Patel are among the core members of Patidar Abhivadan Samiti.
According to the organisers, the BJP leaders have accepted the invitation. Speaking with The Indian Express, Mahesh Sawani, who runs a chain of education institutions, said, “We have organised the event to felicitate Amit Shah, along with Gujarat BJP president Jitubhai Vaghani, CM Vijay Rupani, Deputy CM Nitin Patel, Union ministers Purshottam Rupala and Mansukh Mandaviya. We have also invited 44 BJP MLAs who belong to the Patidar community. Amit Shah and the others have confirmed their participation. This will be the first time that all 44 Patidar MLAs of BJP will share a platform.” He said: “We expect over one lakh people, mostly Patidars, at the event, and no PAAS member has been invited.”
In view of the felicitation function, core PAAS member Dharmik Malaviya said the quota stir leaders will meet Hardik in Udaipur to chalk out the “future plan of action”. “These Patidar leaders (the businessmen) are rich and they support the government, but we support of the poor Patidar families,” he said. According to sources, Patidar businessmen, including Sidhpara, finalised details of the September 8 event at a meeting a couple of days ago at the farmhouse of Mukesh Patel. Incidentally, PAAS during the agitation had used the office premises of Sidhpara for its several key meetings.