Kankodakoi: Taking a dig at Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, veteran BJP leader Keshubhai Patel on Sunday said that people of the state should beware of "braggarts", while hailing ousted BJP leader Sanjay Joshi for his "dedication" towards the party.
Addressing 'Adivasi Adhikar Jagran' rally at Kankodakoi village in Panchmahals district, organised by a social organisation affiliated to Maha-Gujarat Janta Party of former BJP leader Gordhan Zadafia, Patel said that "one should beware of Lanpot Sankh (a Gujarati proverb meaning person who gives false promises or brags)".
Without taking Modi's name, Patel urged 82 lakh-strong tribal population in the state to bring around a change in Gujarat in the next Assembly elections due later this year.
Veteran BJP leader Keshubhai Patel slammed Narendra Modi for forcing Sanjay Joshi to quit and argued that all his welfare schemes were a complete hogwash.
In a bid to further whip up anti-Modi sentiment close on the heels of ouster of his bete noire Sanjay Joshi from the party, Patel said Joshi did not deserve such a treatment. "Joshi who is committed and dedicated party worker should not have been treated in such humiliating manner," he said.
A former RSS pracharak and BJP general secretary Joshi resigned from the party on Friday.
"Nobody can lock my mouth and stop me from expressing my views under the guise of party discipline as enough is enough and I will not keep my mouth shut," said Patel who has been vocal since last few months against Modi.
Patel had said that people of Gujarat and especially his community (Patels) were living under fear in Modi's rule. Ever since his unceremonious removal from power and Modi replacing him in 2001, it is for the first time that Patel has come out openly against Modi in the run up to the 2012 state elections.
Patel has been directly attacking Modi over his style of functioning and has even asked the members of tribal community to shed fear and stand up for their due rights.
Patel said he wanted to know how much amount has been spent under Rs 15,000 crore Vanbandhu scheme meant for welfare of tribal community, which was announced by Modi government.
He charged that tribal welfare schemes like "Kuvarben nu mameru" (Gujarat government giving cash assistance of Rs 5000 to poor tribal girls getting married) among other schemes have been scrapped by Modi government.
Patel said that five colleges opened in tribal areas during his tenure for enabling tribal students to pursue higher studies have been closed down.
"Not only that, 12 science schools opened in rural areas of the state for enabling tribal students to be engineers and doctors during my rule have been handed over to private bodies who charge exorbitant fees and tribals students find it difficult to pursue higher studies in science," Patel said.
"I had given forest land titles to 54,000 tribals for tilling from 1995 to 2001 before enactment of forest tribal act by the Centre in 2006," he said.
Patel criticised Modi government for rolling out "red carpet" for Tata's small car Nano plant in Sanand and handing over 1.5 lakh hectares of village grazing land to industrialists in the state.
He accused the state government of "discriminating" against the tribals from Panchmahals, Narmada and Vadodara districts in supplying water to them from Narmada river. He dismissed as "farce" the Garib Kalyan Melas held across the state, alleging that a huge amount of taxpayers' money was spent in organising them.
Alleging that law and order situation is worsening each passing day in the state, Patel said police are falsely implicating tribal leaders in various crimes.
On education front, as many as 18 lakh students have dropped out from primary schools during Modi's ten year rule, he said.
Patel alleged that Forest Minister Mangubhai Patel and BJP MLAs from Panchmahals district tried to sabotage his rally by preventing tribals from attending it.
Former chief minister Suresh Mehta who was one of two chief guests at the rally said, "Why there is no announcement on continuation of the Rs 15,000 crore Vanbandhu Kalyan Scheme which expired early this year?
"Gujarat Government is cheating members of tribals community by announcing Vanbanhu Kalyan scheme as it is mandatory to spend prescribed amount of the budget under this scheme," he said demanding hiking the corpus of the scheme to Rs 19,000 crore.
Another chief guest and former union textile minister Kashiram Rana alleged that as many as 10,000 posts in various government departments reserved under ST category are occupied by candidates belonging to general category in contravention of rules, while 67 per cent posts reserved for SC candidates are still lying vacant.
Gordhan Zadafia, president of the Maha Gujarat Janta Party (MJP) said that the administration tried to create obstacles in holding the rally.
Former education minister Nalin Bhatt, coordinator of Din Dayal Seva Samiti, also critcised Modi for turning into a "dictator" and "harassing" those who oppose him.