Farming to diamonds to stir: At business meet, PM Modi makes a pitch for Patidar vote

Farming to diamonds to stir: At business meet, PM Modi makes a pitch for Patidar vote

India News

Amid Hardik Patel’s murmurs of discontent within the Congress and anticipation of a political debut by prominent Patidar Naresh Patel, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has weighed in for the BJP in the tussle for the community vote.

His speech Friday at the Global Patidar Business Summit (GPBS) in Surat, delivered virtually, ticked all the boxes in addressing the concerns of the community, as well as touched upon the Patidar stir that gave a scare in 2017 to the BJP, though it eventually returned to power in the Assembly elections.

While it was the third such business summit, it was the first time Modi addressed it. Then Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani was the chief speaker the first two times.

With unemployment one of the chief causes of the Patidar unrest, Narendra Modi urged the Patidar business community to “move out of the 15-20 big cities” of the state, and establish businesses in smaller towns to “spread the scope of development”. With farming stagnating among the once largely agrarian community, the PM sought investment in agriculture and not just real-estate. “Just like you make diamonds shine, make the farmers too shine,” he said, while addressing the audience as “sons of farmers”.

In an indirect reference to the stir for reservation for Patidars, which had been led by Hardik, Modi said: “There are some boys in your area who come out against us raising flags… They go out on the streets shouting ‘Murdabad Murdabad’.” He said the Patidar community should educate them on how far they had come, specifically referring to the time before the 24-hour power supply scheme launched by him as the CM of Gujarat.

The PM said his government at the Centre wanted to create an environment where youths from ordinary families become entrepreneurs. “We just have to boost our self-confidence, our spirit of self-reliance,” he said.

The businessmen who attended Modi’s address said they believed the promises he made. Some said they had already started discussions on how to go about doing group farming, and to locate large tracts of land to support the same.

The South Gujarat Convenor of the Global Patidar Business Summit, Vipul Bhuva, said, “We held a meeting of top businessmen in which we discussed opportunities for group farming on a larger scale. The youth wing of the Summit has been told to identify such land. It would be like a conglomerate of Patidars. The youth wing has also been told to research agricultural crops and best practices.”

Bhuva added: “The reason PM Modi called on Patidars to take different responsibilities is that he knows that if a message is sent to the top brass, the entire community will follow it.”

Gagji Sutariya, president of Sardardham, Ahmedabad, which organised the Summit, said: “We have seen Narendra Modi working as CM and now in Delhi. During his seven years as PM, he looks 20 years older than his age. It is due to all his hard work.” Modi and the Patidar community enjoyed a good relationship, Sutariya added.

A Patidar leader on condition of anonymity said, “When Modi was the CM, there was no Patidar movement. Each and every Patidar political and business leader was happy. When Anandiben Patel (a Patidar) took over as CM, many political leaders belonging to the community became unhappy as they felt their wishes were not fulfilled. This drove an internal war between political leaders of the community.”

The leader pointed out that the demand of the community for withdrawal of cases registered against their members during the protest was being met.

The Patidar Anamat Andolan Samithi had led the quota agitation. Its convenor Alpesh Katheria, however, said it was wrong of Modi to have referred to the stir from the platform of a business summit, adding that they saw it as linked to the coming Assembly elections.

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