Rift in Congress-Patidar alliance, after party releases first list of candidates

File photo of PAAS leader Hardik Patel. Image courtesy: PTI

Ahmedabad, November 21: All is not well between the Hardik Patel led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) and the Congress party, as the two parties clashed over ticket distribution on Sunday, hours after Congress had declared that an agreement had been reached between the two.

PAAS party workers attacked Congress offices in Surat, the hub of the Patidar agitation, and other parts of the State at night, after Congress announced its first list of candidates. The list was made up of 77 names, and included PAAS members Lalit Vasoya from Dhoraji in Rajkot and Amit Thummar from Junagadh.

This inclusion gave the impression that a settlement had been reached, which it has not. The Hardik Patel-led-party claimed that the grand old party had included the names without their consent, according to an article by NDTV.

Highlights:

  • Congress says a deal was struck with Hardik Patel over Patidar reservation
  • Congress releases first list of candidates for Gujarat elections
  • PAAS members hold protests all over the state, against the list

The Congress party had invited Hardik Patel, Thakor community leader Alpesh Thakor and Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani to enter into an alliance with them to win the Gujarat elections in October. However, Congress has not yet made any promises to allot reservation in education and government jobs for the Patidar community, which had been the main condition for Hardik Patel to support the party.

PAAS rose to power on the back of the Patidar movement in 2015, which demanded reservation for the community. Hardik Patel blamed the ruling party, BJP, for excluding Patel youth from education and job opportunities, when promoting development and industrialisation in the State.

“Congress announced the names without our permission. We will launch a state-wide agitation against the Congress,” said Patel’s aide and core member of the PAAS, Dinesh Bhambhani.

However according to a Times of India report, the reason behind the clash was that Patel’s party had demanded for at least 14 tickets and Congress was ready to give only four. After the sex tape scandal involving Hardik Patel, Congress leaders were disinclined to commit more tickets. But PAAS leaders gave an ultimatum to Congress to arrive at a final decision on the reservation and tickets matter within 24 hours, if they didn’t want to provoke state-wide protests.

The Surat convener of PAAS, Dharmik Malaviya has said that the community would not allow Congress offices to function until they got a fair share of seats, according to a Scroll article.

A PTI report states that the PAAS leadership was upset with Congress having included two names in the list, where their demand had been for 20 seats. The PAAS leadership directed the two members, Vasoya and Thummar, to refrain from filling up their nomination forms in protest.

Hardik has also cancelled a rally that was supposed to take place in Rajkot, where he was going to announce PAAS’ support for the Congress party.

Meanwhile, BJP released its third list of candidates on Tuesday, in which it has given 15 party tickets to candidates from the Patidar community, based on a report by Firstpost. The inclusion of the Patels came at the cost of some former ministers and senior BJP leaders like IK Jadeja, and former chief minister Anandiben Patel’s sister, Vasuben Trivedi, who were removed from the list. Five candidates have been replaced in Surat, including diamond merchant Nanubhai Vanani, who has been one of the harshest critic of Hardik Patel.

The last date to file nominations for the upcoming elections is 21 November.

The Gujarat elections are due to be held in two phases: on the 9th and 14th of December. The results will be out on 18 December.

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