Free Press Journal

Gujarat Assembly Election 2017: BJP, Congress grapple with scramble for seats


Gandhinagar: The struggle for reservation spearheaded by the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) shrivelled into a scramble for seats, no sooner did the Congress announce their first list of 77 candidates with the anger over both deliverance and denial spilling into incensed attack on opposition party offices. Both organizations spent the length of the day on Monday managing the contradictions.

The ruling BJP fared no better and was also battling recalcitrance and rebellion within its ranks as its third list of 28 candidates was declared on Monday.

(According to Our Delhi Bureau, the BJP final list threw up a big surprise: the party has dropped two loyalists of former CM Anandiben Patel, as also three Patidar ministers — Nanu Vasani, Jayanti Kavadia and Vallabh Baghasia. They all come from constituencies where the Patidar agitation by Hardik Patel and company was quite strong.)

Senior leader IK Jadeja, on finding his name missing in all the three BJP lists, has left for Delhi to plead his case while another senior party leader alleged that the Wadhwan ticket has been sold for Rs 9 crores. A dismayed Hardik Patel, convenor of PAAS, shared a 45 second video on the social media which had a person urging the community to shed their differences and support him.

Also Read: Gujarat Elections: BJP frontrunners, but Modi-Amit Shah losing invincible tag

‘‘Our forefathers were correct when they said that a Patel’s marriage procession rarely crosses the village boundary without differences surfacing. Alpesh Thakore joined the Congress with the best interests of his OBC community in mind and got wholehearted support. Jignesh Mevani, spearheading the Dalit cause, met Rahul Gandhi and was roundly supported by his fraternity. And what do we do? No sooner does our brother go to meet the Congress leaders for the benefit of our community, there is opposition to Hardik from within. You should be ashamed of yourself. You are educated, you use the social media. You need to think of the community’s interest and support Hardik,’’ it stated, ending with a message from Hardik. The message says that it is not for him but for the families of the 14 youth who were martyred — ‘‘Please do not let their sacrifices go in vain.’’

The emotional appeal notwithstanding, Hardik’s most important engagement of the day stood cancelled. He was to address a rally in Rajkot on Monday, on the very day Chief Minister Vijay Rupani was to file his nomination. However, following the altercations and fracas within the PAAS ranks after the first Congress list was declared, the rally was cancelled.

Late on Monday night after the Congress list was declared, a fratricidal ‘war’ broke out with only two of the PAAS nominees getting tickets, though the list of 77 had the names of 23 Patidar candidates, 20 OBCs and 11 scheduled caste and scheduled tribe candidates, besides three Muslims and two women.

PAAS members in Surat were the most vocal, making it known that they have been ignored in ticket distribution and would not allow the Congress office to function in their city. Among those up in arms was Dinesh Bhamaniya, a close associate of Hardik who vent his spleen against the Congress stating that the Congress has given tickets to PAAS convenors without their approval. While all sorts of reasons were being tossed up for the anger, the fact was that the PAAS members wanted more seats for themselves.

Angry PAAS members also stormed the residence of Gujarat Congress chief Bharat Solanki as well as the state congress headquarters in Ahmedabad  forcing the barricading of the gate and calling in of police personnel at both places. PAAS wanted five seats in the first list, the Congress obliged with only two, it was learnt, leading to the unrest.

There were similar scenes at the state BJP headquarters as well with the main gates ordered closed and cops summoned after resentment over denial of seats boiled over.

With protesters at the state party headquarters gathering from all over the state to vent their ire, party chief Amit Shah as well as state party head Jitu Vaghani stayed away, preferring to carry on their fire-fighting from home. After Dalit leader Jetha Solanki’s resignation, Kuvarji Halpati quit from the Gujarat Gram Gruhnirman Board after being denied a ticket from Mandvi. His supporters burnt an effigy of cabinet minister Ganpat Vasava. Halpati is expected to enter the fray as an Independent. There were reports of protests from Porbandar, Kutiyana, Dabhoi, Tankara, Narmada, Kkheralu, Mandvi and Prantij.

Party MP Liladhar Vaghela has threatened to quit if his son is not given a ticket from Deesa while Panchmahal MP Prabhatsinh Chauhan wants a ticket for his wife as well. Numerous such demands have surfaced from various parts with each one threatening to quit.

The NCP, which was earlier in favour of having a tie-up with the Congress, is now having second thoughts after the differences between the Ccongress and the PAAS coming to the fore. It is planning to put up candidates for all the seats in the state.