PAAS and Congress workers clash at several places over seat sharing. PAAS to contest 5 seats, according to an agreement with Congress.
The first list declared by Congress on Sunday night included two PAAS leaders. Election campaign office of a Congress candidate from Surat ransacked, allegedly by PAAS activists.
It was a rollercoaster Sunday with Congress and PAAS reaching an agreement on quota and seat sharing only to see it hit a last-minute hurdle late in the night after the main opposition party announced its first list of 77 candidates, including two PAAS leaders.
PAAS and Congress workers clashed near the office of Praful Togadia, Congress candidate from Patel-dominated Varchcha Road seat in Surat. PAAS members said that they had been ignored in ticket distribution+ . Dharmik Malaviya, Surat PAAS convener, said they would not allow the city Congress office to operate unless PAAS got a proper share in seat sharing.
Clashes were also reported from Surat ans elsewhere.
“Congress announced tickets to PAAS members without consulting our core committee. We will register a strong protest by attacking Congress offices,” said Dinesh Bambhania, co-convener of PAAS, who was nominated as chief negotiator of quota talks by Hardik Patel+ .
Earlier, PAAS had agreed to contest five seats. The first list declared by Congress on Sunday night included two PAAS leaders – Lalit Vasoya from Dhoraji in Rajkot and Amit Thummar from Junagadh.
Following a “positive and cordial meeting”, quota warrior Hardik Patel was nominated by both PAAS and Congress to officially announce the alliance, including the nitty-gritties of the complex ‘quota formula’ on Monday in Rajkot – the day when CM Vijay Rupani files his nomination papers from here. However a late night report said that Hardik Patel’s programme at Gondal near Rajkot has been cancelled.
Hardik could not be reached for a comment on whether he will officially announce the alliance given the widespread protests erupted within PAAS over seatsharing. Sources said PAAS scaled down its demand of seven to nine seats after hard bargaining by Congress following Hardik’s alleged sextapes scandal.
The development is considered significant ahead of polls as the alliance could allow Congress to tap into the resentment of Patidars whipped up by PAAS against BJP. Patidars constitute 14% of Gujarat population. Bharatsinh Solanki, state Congress president, said, “All issues raised by PAAS have been resolved.”
Both Congress and PAAS denied that Patel quota leaders had demanded tickets from the party. Senior Congress leader Siddharth Patel, who headed the quota talks however said, “There was no demand for tickets. However, good candidates from the Patidar outfit will be fielded.”
Bambhania, who, on Friday night, had issued a 24-hour ultimatum to Congress to ‘decide on quota or face protests by Patidars’, said, “Congress has assured us a constitutionally tenable quota and an agreement has been reached over all major issues.” Bhambania refused to disclose the details of the ‘quota formula’ suggested by Congress, reiterating it will be ‘exclusive from the existing reservation system for SC, ST and OBC’.
“Congress has assured to provide 6% quota for all nonreserved categories, including Patidars,” a PAAS leader said.