Gujarat election 2017: Not many days are left for the important elections in PM Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat. While the BJP has already come with the first list of its candidates for the two-phase polls to be held on December 9 and December 14, the Congress is yet to make a move. Congress’ campaign led by vice-president Rahul Gandhi has generated a lot of traction in the poll-bound state, courtesy his new-found love for politics and the coming together of three young leaders – Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mewani and Alpesh Thakore. The party is now hoping for huge returns in terms of votes with its alliance with Patidar agitation leader Hardik Patel. However, despite Patel’s open anti-BJP posture and declared support for the Congress, the Patidars and Congress have not yet been able to decide the formalities of their alliance.
Patidars constitute around 15 per cent of total voters in the state and they can influence results in around 60 constituencies.
A number of Patidar leaders continue to shift to the BJP camp. The latest being Chirag Patel, the former aide and founding member of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS). After joining the BJP on Friday, Chirag launched a scathing attack on Hardik over the alleged sex tapes of the latter which were circulated recently. Chirag accused Hardik of bringing bad name to the Patidar community and hence it was impossible for him to stick to the PAAS.
“After the sex CDs of Hardik have emerged, it is not possible for me to remain silent. This entire episode is a blot on the community,” Chirag said, adding, “The agitation, which was started with the goal of getting a reservation for the Patel community, has now become a tool to satisfy the personal ambitions of one person. It has become a tool to acquire wealth and power. I strongly believe that the agitation is going in a wrong direction.”
Chirag along with Ketan Patel were suspended from PAAS in August 2016 after they accused Hardik of using the agitation to satisfy his personal ambitions.
The alleged sex CDs of Hardik have rocked the poll climate in the state and Hardik now looks in a hurry to make or break alliance with the Congress. However, the latter is not obliging fast.
In the beginning of November, Hardik had set a 3-day deadline for the Congress to come up with a clear formula for reservation for Patidars. Reports today said Hardik has set a fresh deadline until Saturday midnight for the Congress party on the issue of reservation for Patidars and tickets for his candidates on around 30 assembly constituencies.
The deadline for filing nominations for the first phase of elections is Tuesday.
Hardik’s deadline has added to the list woes of the Congress, which is already struggling in accommodating the candidates of Alpesh Thakore, who recently joined the party. Reports say the Congress leadership in the state are not in a mood to accept Hardik’s candidates as it may upset Congress’ own rank and file. However, any indecision on the part of the Congress, may end up helping the BJP.
On Friday, some close aides of Hardik were in Delhi to negotiate with the Congress leadership. But they were reportedly unhappy after they couldn’t hold talks with the top Congress leaders. Hardik’s close aide Dinesh Bamania told media that could not meet top Congress leaders and Gujarat Congress chief Bhartsinh Solanki was not picking their calls. Bamania said it was an insult to PAAS.
Meanwhile, the Congress is also reportedly in talks with NCP and Sharad Yadav’s JD-U for an alliance in Gujarat.