Hardik Patel, the public face of the Patidar agitation who joined the Congress last month, was slapped by a man at an election meeting in Gujarat’s Saurashtra region on Friday. Hardik Patel, who filed a police complaint, later alleged the attacker had been sent by the BJP
The 25-year-old was campaigning for the Congress candidate on the Surendranagar Lok Sabha seat when the assault took place.
According to a video of the attack put out by news agency ANI, Patel was canvassing support for the Congress candidate Soma Patel when the incident took place.
“You have blessed us with the support…There was an agitation also… Now that elections are closing in…,” Hardik Patel says. At this point, the man walks up to Hardik Patel and landed a loud slap on his face.
“14 people have died…14 people have died,” the man, later identified as Tarun Mistry said, referring to the young men killed in clashes with police in Gujarat after August 25, 2015, Patidar rally in Ahmedabad.
Hardik Patel’s supporters quickly moved in and thrashed the man who was later taken to a hospital in Wadhwan.
The Patidar leader has alleged that it was the BJP conspiracy. “The BJP wants to kill me,” Hardik Patel told reporters.
As a 22-year-old back in 2015, Patel co-founded the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti or PAAS that led the agitation demanding that government scrap quotas for Muslims, Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) or reclassify Patels to OBCs, guaranteeing them a share of government jobs and school places.
After he teamed up with the Congress, the BJP has accused him of fronting the agitation for the opposition party.
The attack comes a day after a farmer refused permission for Hardik Patel’s chopper to land on his farm saying that he had “played politics on dead bodies”. The farmer was quoted by PTI as saying: “I know Hardik, the Patidar leader from our community, and I know who he is. I object to him putting a foot on my land because he is doing politics on the dead bodies of 14 Patidar youths (killed during the quota agitation),” he said.
Patel, who joined the Congress last month, has emerged as the star campaigner for the party and has been crisscrossing the state in choppers to campaign for party leaders.