In a major boost for Congress ahead of next month’s Gujarat Assembly polls, Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel on Wednesday said Congress has agreed to their quota demands and in case it wins polls, it will be cleared and it will put the community at par with OBCs. Addressing media, Patel noted that Article 31 and 46 will be used by Congress to bring in a bill for non-reserved classes. He said Congress has agreed to all conditions. “A formula has been vetted by legal experts. A panel will be formed after talks,” Patel said. Patel also said that he had never appealed to anyone to vote for Congress. “But since they are talking about our rights, we leave it on people to decide,” Patel said. Rejecting reports of rifts within PAAS, he said, “We never asked for any ticket.”His statement is a complete turnaround from yesterday’s remark that BJP and Congress are same. Ruling out joining any party, Patel said that he will continue to fight against ‘injustice done by ruling BJP’ in Gujarat. Alleging that BJP has been using its tactics as it fears defeat, Patel said that several horse trading attempts being made with our conveners in North Gujarat even as Rs 50 lakh was offered to conveners.
Patel yesterday said, “the BJP and the Congress are the same”. Referring to the 2015 quota stir, Hardik said he would not forget the sacrifice made by the Patidar “martyrs” for the sake of just three-four tickets.
“Just remember one thing, we have to decimate those who have committed atrocities on us. I will not tell you who to vote for. Both the BJP and the Congress are the same. For them, the people are of no value.
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“Just use your wisdom while giving your vote and choose the one who assures you justice,” Hardik told a huge gathering at Transad village in Dholka taluka.
His remarks days after the Congress initially allotted two seats to PAAS members — Amit Thummar and Lalit Vasoya –as against 20 seats demanded by the outfit.
The Congress later withdrew the candidature of Thummar from Junagadh and replaced him with Bhikhabhai Joshi of the party, leaving only Vasoya (Dhroaji) in the fray from PAAS.
The “improper representation” to PAAS had prompted protests by its members.
Soon after the first list was released on Sunday night, agitated PAAS members started protests in many parts of the state.
In Surat, several PAAS members ransacked the Congress city unit’s office and indulged in sloganeering against the party.
“You must have seen on television how some people went on a rampage (on Sunday night when Congress issued its first list). I want to make it clear that I neither sought any ticket in the past nor I will seek in the future. We will not forget the martyrdom of our youths for the sake of three-four tickets,” Hardik said evoking cheers from the crowd.
This is for the first time in the last two days that Hardik made any comments about the ongoing tussle between PAAS and the Congress over the allocation of tickets.
Asking people not to believe everything which comes on television, he said the time has come to “decimate” the ruling BJP.
(Article first published on 23 November, 2019)