Tribal leader Chhotu Vasava, who played an important role in pulling Ahmed Patel out from the jaws of defeat in the Gujarat Rajya Sabha election with his single vote, is now demanding a decent share in the 27 seats reserved seats for Scheduled Tribes in a projected alliance with Congress for the upcoming assembly polls in the state. Presently among the seats reserved for Scheduled Tribes, Congress has 16 sitting MLAs, BJP 10 and one JD-U, that is Vasava himself. Vasava said that he has demanded 25 seats as Bhilistan Tiger Sena and Bharatiya Tribal Party spreads across the entire belt of Gujarat. Bhilistan Tiger Sena is an organization which is run by Vasava’s son Mahesh Vasava and has been demanding separate statehood for the tribal belt.
The Congress has delayed by two days the release of its first list of candidates for next month’s assembly elections in Gujarat due to ongoing seat-sharing talks with Patidar leader Hardik Patel and other parties. On November 17, Congress president Sonia Gandhi chaired the second meeting of the party’s central election committee (CEC) for Gujarat polls to finalise its candidates on all the 182 seats. It had cleared the names of 70 candidates in its first meeting on November 10.
Last month, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had sought the resignation of Ahmed Patel for his alleged association with Sardar Patel Hospital and Heart Institute, where a suspected IS agent was employed. The Congress hit back, alleging that the BJP was indulging in “low-level tricks” because it was staring at defeat in the Gujarat Assembly elections.
Two suspected IS operatives were arrested by the Gujarat Anti Terrorist Squad last month. According to the FIR, one of the accused, Kasim Stimberwala, earlier worked as a technician at Sardar Patel Hospital and Heart Institute in Ankleshwar. Gujarat CM Rupani alleged that the hospital was being “managed” by Ahmed Patel.
On August 9, in a nail-biting Rajya Sabha election finish, Congress leader Ahmed Patel was declared elected from the Gujarat Assembly. BJP president Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani were also declared winners at the end of counting of votes at Swarnim Sankul in Gandhinagar.