Gujarat elections highlights: Hardik Patel’s Rajkot rally cancelled, cloud over alliance with Congress
In an indication that all is not well between the Congress and Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), Patidar leader Hardik Patel cancelled on Monday a rally in Rajkot, where he was expected to make an announcement whether or not his outfit would extend support to the opposition party in the Gujarat assembly elections.
Though the two sides claimed to have reached a deal, the official announcement about the reservation formula and the PAAS’s stand on supporting the Congress was expected to come from Patel at a public gathering in Rajkot on Monday.
But trouble hit both the camps with Patidar supporters vandalising the Congress office in Surat hours after the Congress released its first list for candidates accommodating just three PAAS names. The Congress’ first list of 77 candidates, announced on Sunday, include 20 Patidars.
Out of power for more than two decades, the Congress is aiming to wrest power from the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state with the help of caste leaders such as Patel and Jignesh Mevani.
Here are the updates:
1:15pm: After protests by PAAS leaders against the Congress on Sunday night, Hardik Patel says in a tweet: “Don’t plunge so deep in politics that you forget martyrs. Also remember the promises’”. He, however, did not make it clear who it was addressed to.
1.06pm: Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani files nomination for Gujarat assembly elections in the presence of Union minister Arun Jaitley in Rajkot. Rupani is the BJP candidate from Rajkot West constituency.
12.40pm: The BJP has dropped three ministers from Patidar community-- Nanu Vanani, Jayanti Kavadiya and Vallabh Vagahsia.
12.25pm: The BJP releases its third list of 28 candidates on Monday. The party drops 15 sitting legislators, including three ministers in the third list. So far, the ruling party has announced nominations for 134 of the 182 seats and dropped 30 MLAs.
12.06pm: Dinesh Bambhania tells media an anonymous caller threatened him they would kidnap his son from the school. Bambhania says he has not registered a police complaint in this regard.
12.03pm: PAAS Mehsana convener Narendra Patel, who earlier had alleged that the BJP offered him Rs 1 crore to switch loyalty, says Dinesh Bambhania has made a secret deal with either the BJP or the NCP.
12.01pm: Hardik Patel’s Gondal rally, some 25 km from Rajkot, has been cancelled. At the end of rally, Hardik was expected to make announcement over the PAAS’s possible alliance with the Congress.
11.40pm: The NCP is reportedly upset with the Congress, which has announced a candidate on Kutiyana assembly constituency currently held by the NCP.
11.35pm: The NCP says it will contest the Gujarat assembly elections on its own and expressed confidence it would bag the maximum number of seats in the “solo fight”.
10.30am: Ashok Gehlot, Congress’ in-charge in Gujarat, condemns violence by PAAS workers. “Hardik Patel and his workers should show patience, issues can be sorted out by talking,” news agency ANI quoted Gehlot as saying.
10.20am: Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani accuses PAAS leaders of working as agents of the Congress. “Now, they have been totally exposed,” Rupani tells ANI on clash over ticket distribution.
* The PAAS, which which appears to be playing hardball with the Congress, had demanded around 20 seats. The Alpesh Thakor-led OBC bloc wanted 12 seats. Thakor had joined the Congress recently.