- Surat Nikhil Sawani had joined BJP along with 150 others last month
- Mr Sawani resigned, saying BJP 'fulfilling nothing'
- Another leader, Narendra Patel, alleged BJP tried to buy him
Here are the latest developments in this big story:
Nikhil Sawani congratulated Narendra Patel, who appeared before TV cameras with wads of cash that he alleged was Rs 10 lakh given to him by the BJP, with a promise of "90 lakhs tomorrow." Mr Sawani later met with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in Gandhinagar.
"Narendra Patel comes from a small family but still he didn't choose Rs 1 crore," said Nikhil Sawani, adding that he was not offered money to join the BJP. "I wasn't offered money to join BJP. Now I have resigned because they are just offering lollipops and fulfilling nothing," he said.
The BJP has dismissed Narendra Patel's allegations as a Congress conspiracy. Its denial was fronted by Varun Patel, another former Hardik Patel aide who joined the BJP on Saturday. Narendra Patel has alleged that it was Varun Patel who gave him 10 lakhs and promised another 90 lakhs.
"Instead of 10 lakhs, Narendra Patel should have taken the entire one crore rupees he claims he was offered and then gone to the media. Why did he just take 10 lakhs, is he that crazy?" Varun Patel shot back, alleging a Congress hand because it is "scared as Patels are moving towards the BJP and no Patel will attend Rahul Gandhi's rally on Monday."
BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya said, "First, he (Narendra Patel) came out and declared he is joining BJP. After 2-3 hours he does this drama... The Congress cannot sway Gujarat's people with this kind of drama."
Rahul Gandhi has gone all out to woo Patels, accusing the BJP of shortchanging the community and promising to fulfil their demands if his party returns to power in Gujarat, ruled by the BJP for the last two decades. "Gujarat is priceless. It has never been bought. It can never be bought. It will never be bought," Rahul Gandhi tweeted today. The Patels have supported the BJP for years but have been upset recently over the benefits of reservation not being extended to them.
Rahul Gandhi had separately invited Hardik Patel and Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani to meet him in state capital Gandhinagar, where he is holding a rally. Hardik Patel said that since he was busy with rallies, he wouldn't be able to meet Rahul Gandhi today, but could meet him in the days to come.
Other Backward Classes (OBC) leader Alpesh Thakor will join the Congress at the rally. Congress state chief Bharatsinh Solanki has invited Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mevani and Thakor to join the party to "ensure the ruling BJP's defeat."
The Congress, out of power in Gujarat for over two decades, is hoping for an anti-incumbency sentiment against the BJP this year and has been trying to consolidate the support of groups like the Patels and Dalits, who have carried out big agitations against the state government.
The BJP effected a change of guard last year replacing Anandiben Patel, seen to have mismanaged the Patel agitation for reservation and the Dalit protests against attacks on members of the community, with Vijay Rupani as chief minister. The state government has in recent months attempted damage control, meeting Patel leaders to discuss their demands.
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