Hardik Patel Cancels Rally Amid Crisis Over Pact With Congress: 10 Points
Gujarat Assembly Elections 2017: Hardik Patel had made his support to the Congress conditional - demanding that Patidars brought under the 27 per cent quota for Other Backward Classes. Over the weeks, the young leader has put out many ultimatums but has always stopped short of acting on them.
Gujarat Assembly Elections 2017: Hardik Patel was not in the meeting with the Congress on Sunday.
Ahmedabad: Hardik Patel today cancelled a rally and went MIA as his group struggled with an apparent split in the ranks over a deal with the Congress for the Gujarat election next month. He was expected to announce the pact at the rally in Rajkot. Last night, clashes erupted hours after the Congress declared, after weeks of hard negotiations, that it had reached an understanding on a seat-sharing formula with Hardik Patel's PAAS or Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti. The 24-year-old Patidar campaign leader was not in the meeting with the Congress.
Late on Sunday, angry members of PAAS vandalized Congress offices and clashed with workers, accusing the party of including its leaders in the list without their consent.
"Congress announced the names without our permission. We will launch a state-wide agitation against the Congress," said Dinesh Bhambhani, a member of the core committee of PAAS, who claimed that even Hardik Patel had been surprised by the Congress announcement.
A large number of policemen were brought in to protect the Congress headquarters in Ahmedabad and other places in the state after the clashes.
Cracks were exposed in the tightly-knit group after one of those three candidates, Lalit Vasoya, filed his nomination papers as a Congress candidate despite Dinesh Bhambania announcing that none of the leaders would do so.
Mr Vasoya claimed that he was "only following his boss Hardik Patel's directive" after the truce with the Congress. Hardik Patel's only response so far is a cryptic tweet of a couplet that urges in its opening line: "Do not be this steeped in power..."
The Congress's first list of 77 candidates for the Gujarat polls features 19 members of the Patel community, besides Hardik Patel aides Mr Vasoya and Nilesh Patel.
Ahead of the Gujarat vote, the Congress has been courting the Patidars, a powerful community that has in recent years complained about being deprived of job and education opportunities and has demanded reservations.
Hardik Patel had made it clear that the BJP's lack of support to their demands will cost the party that has been in power in the state for 23 years.
He had made his support to the Congress conditional - demanding that Patidars brought under the 27 per cent quota for Other Backward Classes. Over the weeks, the young leader has put out many ultimatums but has always stopped short of acting on them.