Ahmedabad, Sep 9: Intensifying their quota agitation, the Patel community leaders in Gujarat today appealed to its members to withdraw money from banks across the state to launch what they called an 'economic non-cooperation' movement.
The move by the Sardar Patel Group, which began the OBC quota agitation for Patels in Gujarat, came a day after the Patidar or Patel community members living in the US announced "boycott" of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's upcoming visit there to deliver a "strong message" on the issue.
"We have made an appeal to the Patel community members to withdraw their money from banks because this state government has turned a deaf ear to our demands to get reservation," Varun Patel, spokesperson of Sardar Patel Group (SPG), said.
"As per our knowledge, there are around 70 lakh bank accounts of our community members which have at least Rs 50,000 each, and that means our community has around Rs 350 crore (of deposits)," he added.
Varun Patel was confident that his community members will definitely respond to this appeal and claimed that some of them has already started withdrawing money from banks.
To a query as to where will they keep the money after withdrawing from the banks, he said, "Patels had money earlier also and that they did not keep in any banks. Patels can keep the money with themselves." However, the appeal for withdrawing money was opposed by Senior Vice President of Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industries (GCCI), Bipin Patel who dubbed it as foolish.
"I am sure none of the Patel community members will withdraw money from bank accounts as it will make an impact over their as well as the state's economy. The appeal of withdrawing money must be made out of foolishness," he said. SPG under the leadership of Lalji Patel, who is known for mentoring the face of quota agitation Hardik Patel until they parted ways, has been spearheading the movement in the state to get reservation.
The reservation movement had turned violent last month in which at least 10 people lost their lives. More than 1,000 Patels yesterday held a meeting in Edison town of New Jersey to extend their support to protests being organised by their brethren in Gujarat, according to Lalji Patel.
SPG disassociated itself from Hardik Patel-led Patidar Ananmat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) after their mega rally on August 25 here and is running a parallel movement to press for the quota demand. "Patels living in US have come forward and extended their support to our cause.
Today, more than 1,000 Patels living in Edison held a meeting and extended support to us. They have announced to boycott PM Narendra Modi's upcoming visit in US," Lalji Patel said. Lalji said Patels in US always participated with great enthusiasm during such visits of PM.
"But now, the Patel community in US wants to give a strong message to PM who has not taken any decision about (granting) reservation to Patels. Thus, we have decided to stay away from his programme in US," he said.
Lalji added that Patels will also stay away from any programme of Gujarat government as part of their ongoing stir. The US-based Patels have also asked their community in Gujarat to stop paying taxes to government.