Ahmedabad: The much-touted “Patel” sammelan organized by opponents of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi turned out to be a flop show at Dholka, near here, on June 2 night.
While the organizers expected a gathering of about 40,000 people, not more than 4,000 turned up at the sammelan, which continued well past midnight. Though it was declared a non-political gathering of the Patels with community leaders of various political parties present, it was considered to be a “show of strength” of the former Chief Minister, Keshubhai Patel, and other Modi-baiters.
Modi had also deputed Patel leaders from his camp to move among the Patels in the region to discourage them from attending the sammelan and largely succeeded in his mission. Seeing the small crowd, the Patel leaders, also desisted from making any political speeches and converted the sammelan into a “cultural show” of youth organized by the “Patidar Yuvak Mandal.”
Besides Patel, Union Minister Dinsha Patel, the former state Congress president Siddhartha Patel, and the founder-president of the Mahagujarat Janata Party, Gordhan Jhadafiya, a former Minister in the Narendra Modi Cabinet were among those present on the dais. Many other Patel leaders, whose names were doing the rounds as possible speakers at the sammelan, including the former State Vishwa Hindu Parishad general secretary Jaideep Patel — now known to be a Modi baiter — and industrialist Karsan Patel, owner of the “Nirma group” of industries, did not turn up.
It was the first time in the run-up to the 2012 state assembly elections that Congress leaders appeared on the same dais with Keshubhai Patel, though before the 2007 assembly elections, the Congress leaders had jointly addressed the “Patel” sammelans against Modi with the former Chief Minister till he developed cold feet and virtually retired from the anti-Modi campaign apparently at the behest of veteran Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani.
Patel, who lately has been openly targeting Modi for “terrorizing” the people of the state, called upon the Patels “not to fear anyone.” Without naming Modi, the former Chief Minister said: “You are the descendants of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. You need not fear anyone, come out in the open and voice your protest against whatever wrong you feel the Patel community has been subjected to.”
Dinsha Patel also harped on unity among the Patels. “If Sardar Patel were alive today, he would have felt sorry to see the weaknesses creeping in among the Patels. We must stand united and protest. There is no need for anyone to be afraid of anybody,” he said.
Jhadafiya, also a Patel, advised the Patels against selling their land “in the name of development.” He said in the process, they were weakening themselves. They must fight the temptation to sell off their landed property and move to the cities.