Surat: Leader of Patidar agitation Hardik Patel said the huge turnout for his mega roadshow in Surat was a reflection of the people's anger against the BJP. Calling the coming elections a "people versus the BJP" battle, he said it should be a "people's victory, not someone's defeat".
The Patel leader, who at the age of 24, is too young to contest elections, has pledged support for the Congress after much back and forth. But his meetings have already drawn thousands. Last week, his meeting at Morbi was said to be better attended than Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rally, barely 25 km away.
Asked about it, Mr Patel told NDTV, "I don't know (about that) but it will be fun... zamana hamara hoga, Janata ka hoga (the world will be ours, of the people)". Asked if anti-incumbency is a factor for the attendance at his rallies, Mr Patel said "Definitely. It indicates the people's angst".
Surat is where Mr Patel had launched his massive agitation for reservation in government jobs and colleges two years ago.
His 10-km roadshow from Katargam to Yogi Chowk is taking place 70 km away from Bharuch, where PM Modi is addressing a rally. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani is also in Surat, holding a roadshow for his candidate from Hajira constituency.
Mr Patel has vowed to bring down the BJP rule which has been there in the state for 22 years. The party, he says, is guilty of failing to support the demand of Patidars, its loyal votebank for decades.
The politically vital Surat area has 16 assembly seats, all of which belongs to the BJP. But the huge section of Patidar votes here has pushed the BJP to focus on the area. The Prime Minister has held four rallies in south Gujarat.
In the municipal election here in December 2015 - a few months after Hardik Patel's mega rallies - the Congress more than doubled its seats, although the BJP had won the election.
This time, Mr Patel has asked his community to vote for the Congress in the assembly elections after assessing as the party's formula for reservation for Patels, if it comes to power, as satisfactory.