The Botad seat in poll-bound Gujarat was where the action was for the Patidars led by Hardik Patel and the Congress on Tuesday as the two partners reached a deal on the candidate for the constituency. The Congress replaced Manhar Patel, an NCP defector, with D.M. Patel, just like the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS)wanted.
The PAAS members had opposed the candidature of Manhar Patel, saying he was not even a proper Congress member, an outsider and had defected from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). PAAS members wanted their convener Dilip Sabwa to get the nomination. The PAAS had even threatened to support the third front if Manhar Patel was not replaced.
Earlier in day, Patidar leader Hardik Patel called off a press conference after differences cropped up between the two sides over the Botad assembly constituency. After a meeting with PAAS leaders and agreeing on the reservation demands, the Congress had hoped it had overcome the disagreements between the two sides. But the PAAS remains unhappy.
The Congress had to accommodate two more Patidar faces in its second list of candidates announced on Sunday. After that, Hardik Patel was to make a formal announcement regarding the community’s support for the Congress in the Assembly elections. That’s when the trouble over Botad seat erupted.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which had announced 181 candidates for the 182 assembly seats, announced that Piyushbhai Desai will be the nominee for the Navsari seat in tribal-dominated southern Gujarat. The tribal groups were demanding their representation from the saffron party but the BJP has not relented.
Gujaratis said to clever but they’re not: Hardik
PAAS leader Hardik Patel on Tuesday said Gujaratis were believed to be very clever but they have not been for last 22 years, adding that Patel agitation leaders had not sought tickets from any political party or wished to contest polls.
Hardik Patel’s statement comes in the wake of an agreement by the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) with the Congress on reservations for the Patels.
Speaking at a public rally at Tragad village near Dholka town, an hour’s drive from Ahmedabad, Hardik Patel again did not speak on extending direct support to the Congress in the December assembly elections that would have been music to Congress ears.
Quiet for the last 48 hours, the PAAS leader was expected to announce support for the Congress after the party bowed to PAAS pressure and changed as many as five of the 89 candidates in the first phase of polls on December 9.
Continuing his tirade against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah, he said: “I am openly saying we are fighting against the BJP and will defeat it.”
“People in India and across the globe wrongly believe that we Gujaratis are clever as we are a business community. But the fact is we are not… the only thing left now is to write on our forehead — I am not clever,” Hardik Patel said.
“The 182 legislators are not at fault. Neither is the Chief Minister or the Prime Minister. It is us who elect such donkeys as leaders.” Maintaining that he did not oppose Modi at a personal level, he lashed out at the Prime Minister. “He will become a dictator. After 2019, he will ensure there are no elections.”
“He (PM) said in Uttar Pradesh that he gives 24-hour electricity in Gujarat but never did. He has used us across the country… he is wrong, wrong, and wrong. So, I fight him,” the PAAS leader said. On quotas, Hardik said he never opposed or sought benefits extended to scheduled castes or tribes or other backward classes. “What we asked for is benefits similar to the OBC community,” he added.
“We never asked any political party for contesting or for tickets for elections. Our main and sole aim is to get reservation for the Patel community.”