Gandhinagar : As the ruling BJP sought to corner both Patidar agitation leader Hardik Patel and Congress leader Ahmed Patel in what is seen as a pre-election pincer move, both hit back in a bid to break the political stranglehold on Saturday.
Hardik whom deputy chief minister Nitin Patel had charged with hobnobbing with the Congress, served an ultimatum on the opposition party setting November 3 as the deadline for it to come clean on how it proposes to give reservations to the Patidars constitutionally. Hardik has already made it clear that he will have no issues in supporting the Congress in the ensuing State Assembly elections if it clarifies it’s stand on quotas to Patels.
The Congress must clear the air on the subject lest it face the same fate as Amit Shah in Surat, Hardik tweeted on Saturday. The inference was twofold. For one, Amit Shah’s show of strength in the Patidar stronghold of Surat on September 8,2016 was rudely cut short by agitators despite massive police reinforcements. Both Shah and chief minister Vijay Rupani were virtually forced to abandon the meeting and leave in the face of defiant Patidar agitators. Shah faced protests again when he went to kick off the Gaurav yatra from Karmsad this October 1. With Rahul Gandhi slated to commence an election tour of the south Gujarat region in the first week of November, Hardik is warning of a frosty reception in case Congress seeks to take their support for granted and an amicable understanding is not worked out.
After the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader went public on BJP attempts to ”buy” him off, filed a case in court accusing BJP leaders for it and audio clips to this effect came into circulation on social media, a counter move began. Some audio clips have been put into circulation on the same social media alleging Congress funding of the Patidar stir now.
The Congress, on its part, stated that it upholds the current 49 per cent quota for SC, ST and OBCs and will legislate on 20 per cent quota for hitherto unreserved communities.
Similarly, chief minister Vijay Rupani had on Friday sought to find ”links” between arrested alleged ISIS terror suspects from Gujarat earlier this week with senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel. Rupani demanded Patel”s resignation from Rajya Sabha as well as a clarification from Congress vice-president on suspected ISIS operative working in a hospital where Patel was once a trustee.
The Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) had picked up two suspected ISIS operatives, Mohammed Kasim Timberwala and Ubed Ahmed Mirza and had claimed they were planning to attack a Jewish synagogue in Khadia area of Ahmedabad.
The ATS claimed that they had carried out a recce of the place. Ubed is a practicing lawyer in Surat while Kasim worked as a laboratory technician with Sardar Patel heart hospital at Ankleshwar. Patel was a trustee of the hospital but had quit after UPA lost power. One of the hospital trustees, Jayesh Patel clarified that Kasim had joined the hospital six months ago but had resigned on October 4 and was relived on October 24. Rupani alleged that if the two had not been arrested they would have carried out attack on Hindu religious heads as well as the synagogue.
Ahmed Patel, in a series of tweets described the allegations as baseless. “My party and I appreciate the efforts to nab the two terrorists. I demand strict and speedy action against them. We urge that a matter of national security should not be politicised for electoral gains. Let us not divide peace-loving Gujaratis while fighting terrorism,” he said.