Even as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has been giving sleepless nights to the BJP in the run-up to the state elections, Gujarat AAP’s general secretary Manoj Sorathiya was late Tuesday night allegedly roughed up by BJP workers while he was examining his party’s Ganesh festival pandal in Surat.
Sorathiya is among the key leaders in Gujarat who has been associated with the AAP right since its inception and was instrumental in his party’s emergence as the only opposition party in the Surat Municipal Corporation polls last year, while the Congress scored a zero.
Speaking to reporters, the AAP’s Surat Lok Sabha seat region president Rajnikant Vaghani said, “When Manojbhai Sorathiya was helping up to properly hang banners on the back of the pandal, at least eight to 10 local BJP leaders armed with pipes and wooden sticks attacked us.”
“They repeatedly hit Manojbhai on his head and he was seriously injured. We screamed and hearing this our party workers on the other side of the pandal rushed there. The BJP goons quickly ran away,” Vaghani said.
Police security has been deployed at the pandal to prevent such incidents again. Deputy Commissioner of Police Sajjansinh Parmar said it appeared that there was a scuffle over putting up banners at the pandal.
He added that the police had received complaints from both sides and the accused people would be arrested. Parmar said, “The condition of Manoj Sorathiya at the hospital is stable.”
Cases were registered at the Kapodra police station under Indian Penal Code section 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons) and sections related to rioting.
The first complaint was made by Sorathiya, who identified six BJP leaders, including Dinesh Desai (in-charge of the Kamrej Assembly seat), Kishan Desai and Karshan Sagathiya as accused. Later, Dinesh Desai’s complaint named Sorathiya, Vaghani and five other AAP leaders.
Instead of speaking to the point on the incident, State BJP co-spokesperson Rutvij Patel – a second rung BJP functionary – went on to call the AAP leaders “urban Naxals” and that Gujarat would never accept them.
In a video statement, Patel said, “The BJP workers were standing at the Simada area when AAP workers came in a large number and attacked them. BJP leaders Dinesh Desai, Kishan Desai and Karshan Sagathiya were injured. They are admitted to the Prerna hospital in Surat.”
Patel didn’t spell out the details of the kind of injury nor could he explain whether there was any provocation. He kept mum on how Sorathiya sustained head injuries, nor did he say if the AAP workers were carrying anything like batons or iron pipes.
He claimed, “This is the AAP’s desperation to create trouble with the elections approaching.” To buttress his allegation, Patel cited a 2017 incident when State AAP President Gopal Italiya was not even a politician and a former government staff as he hurled a shoe at former minister of state for home Pradipsinh Jadeja in the ousted Vijay Rupani Government.