Another former close aide of Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel today joined the ruling BJP in poll-bound Gujarat along with two other ex-PASS members in presence of Union minister Mansukh Mandaviya here.
Another former close aide of Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel today joined the ruling BJP in poll-bound Gujarat along with two other ex-PASS members in presence of Union minister Mansukh Mandaviya here. Ketan Patel, who accompanied Hardik Patel in jail in a sedition case but had later turned approver and was acquitted of the charges, joined the BJP with former Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) members Amrish Patel and Shweta Patel.
The development came two days after Hardik Patel’s another former close aide Chirag Patel joined the saffron party. Ketan Patel and Chirag Patel were expelled from the Hardik Patel-led PAAS in August last year. Hardik Patel had then said that the duo were playing into the hands of some BJP leaders, who were “trying to weaken the (quota) stir”.
After joining the BJP, Ketan Patel criticised one of Hardik Patel’s close aides, Dinesh Bambhaniya, blaming him for the widespread violence after the August 2015 PAAS rally in Ahmedabad, which led to loss of several lives and damage to properties. He claimed Bambhaniya had incited party members to attack policemen, adding he has an audio clip to support his allegation.
“He informed the PAAS members to set police stations and BRTS bus stations on fire, attack police and damage government and private properties (before the August 2015 rally), and police had to take action to control the situation,” he said. Ketan Patel said he worked for PAAS with dedication, but Hardik Patel and Bambhaniya made the organisation work for the opposition Congress party.
Amrish Patel and Shweta Patel expressed their satisfaction over the manner in which the ruling BJP agreed to most of the PASS demands. They blamed the PAAS for deviating from its “core values” under the leadership of Hardik Patel. Chirag Patel, too, had accused Hardik Patel of fulfilling his personal ambitions in the garb of leading the agitation for reservation for the Patidar community. Chirag Patel and Ketan Patel were put behind bars for nearly eight months with Hardik Patel, as they were co-accused in the sedition case filed by the Ahmedabad police following the violence after their mega rally on August 25, 2015.
In August last year, the PAAS had suspended Chirag Patel and Ketan Patel after the duo alleged that Hardik Patel used the agitation as a tool to satisfy his personal ambitions and became a “crorepati” within an year of the movement. Elections for the 182-member Gujarat Assembly will be held in two phases on December 9 and 14.