Gujarat Assembly Elections 2017: Hardik Patel’s team had reportedly demanded that the Congress field at least 12 PAAS members in the assembly elections, which the party has refused to do as it balances caste in its selection of candidates.
Hardik Patel cancels his press conference in Ahmedabad
Congress scales down original offer of four seats for PAAS to one seat
Speculations are rife Hardik Patel is considering rejig in PAAS core team
Hardik Patel, seemingly caught between a rock and a hard place, cancelled a press conference in Ahmedabad this morning that his closest aides had said he would hold. Yesterday he had cancelled a rally in Rajkot amid apparent chaos in his PAAS or Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti over a proposed seat-sharing deal with the Congress for next month’s Gujarat elections.
At both the public appearances that he cancelled, Mr Patel was expected to announce his pact with the Congress. But till Tuesday afternoon, there was no word on where the 24-year-old face of the Patel quota agitation was, as he scrambles to extract a better deal from the Congress before he makes an announcement.
The Congress, meanwhile, has scaled down its original offer of four seats for PAAS members to one seat for a member of Hardik Patel’s organisation and one for a diamond merchant in Surat, backed by Mr Patel, in the lists of candidates it has announced so far.
The party is seen to be playing hardball now, sensing that Mr Patel’s options are dwindling. Its first offer on Sunday was rejected by a key aide of the activist, Dinesh Bhambhani, who led angry members of PAAS in vandalizing Congress offices and clashing with the party workers, accusing it of including its leaders in the list without their consent.
But at the same time, another Hardik aide, Lalit Vasoya, filed his nomination papers as a Congress candidate, despite Mr Bhambania announcing that no PAAS leader named in the Congress list would do so. Both said they were working under Hardik Patel’s instructions.
Members of Hardik Patel’s Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti attacked Congress offices in Surat on Sunday night.
In its revised offer yesterday, the Congress dropped all core PAAS members except Mr Vasoya, replacing two with Congress candidates. Hardik’s team had reportedly demanded that the Congress field at least 12 PAAS members in the assembly elections, which the party has refused to do as it balances caste in its selection of candidates.
Already the party’s high-octave engagement with Hardik Patel has other groups that the Congress hopes to get support from – like backward castes (OBCs) and its traditional voters like Dalits and Adivasis – worked up at what they say is its disproportionate attention to the Patels.