Former Gujarat Congress MLA Raghavji Patel, who voted against senior leader Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha elections held last month, today became the latest entrant to the BJP in the poll-bound state. Ahead of him, six MLAs of the opposition party crossed over to the ruling party during the last ten days. Three MLAs of the Congress had joined the saffron party ahead of the August 8 RS polls. Joining the BJP in presence of Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and state unit BJP president Jitubhai Vaghani at a function in Jamnagar, Patel alleged that some leaders of the Congress were involved in the Patel quota agitation in 2015. He represented Jamnagar (Rural) seat before resigning from the party.
The former MLA claimed that leaders of the Congress were involved in the quota stir that had sparked a largescale violence across Gujarat, claiming ten lives. “I want to tell my Patidar friends that we (Congress leaders) were also involved in the Patel quota stir. I was also actively involved in it. I had not only participated in it, but also helped the agitators. I hereby openly admit that I even incited them,” Patel said. He expressed hope that the ruling party would resolve the reservation issue. “The key issue of the stir was employment and education (of Patels). I realised that BJP leaders are equally concerned about it. However, it is my humble request to the government that those policemen who had committed atrocities during the stir be penalised,” Patel said. His comments came days after Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel termed the quota spearhead Hardik Patel as an agent of the Congress apparently for appealing to the Patidars to rally behind the opposition party in the upcoming polls.
In the past, the BJP had blamed Congress leadership of backing the quota stir and inciting agitators. The MLAs who joined the BJP in the last ten days are: Amit Chaudhary, Ramsinh Parmar, Mansinh Chauhan, Karamshi Patel, C K Raulji and Dharmendrasinh Jadeja. Rupani last month announced that former Congress MLAs, who either resigned ahead of the RS polls or voted against Ahmed Patel, would join the BJP soon. A total of 13 MLAs of the Congress, all loyalists of former party stalwart Shankersinh Vaghela, resigned ahead or after the August 8 elections. Vaghela also quit later. Balwantsinh Rajput, who contested on the BJP ticket against Ahmed Patel, Tejashreeben Patel and Prahlad Patel were the Congress MLAs who switched over to the BJP before the RS polls. Former Congress MLAs Mahendrasinh, the son of Vaghela, Bholabhai Gohel, and Chhanabhai Chaudhary are also set to join the BJP.