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Oppn wants probe into Rs 1-crore bribery charges levelled by Narendra Patel

Narendra Patel ‘joined’ the BJP just a a couple of hours earlier before he made the allegations, and was welcomed with a saffron scarf in front of the media.

india Updated: Oct 23, 2017 23:47 IST
Agencies, Ahmedabad
Patidar leader,Gujarat elections,Bharatiya Janata Party
Gujarat Patidar leader Narendra Patel at a press conference in Ahmedabad on Sunday.(ANI/Twitter)

Patidar leader Narendra Patel’s accusation that the BJP paid him to join the saffron party turned into full-fledged political battle with the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) demanding a judicial probe.

Congress party spokesperson Manish Tewari demanded registration of a case and the probe to be monitored by a sitting judge of the Gujarat high court. “If this is not checked, the entire sanctity of the election process in Gujarat in times to come will be in question,” he said.

AAP spokesperson Ashutosh Gupta said the episode showed how desperate the BJP was to win in the state and demanded an independent judicial probe to investigate the allegations.

Within hours of joining the BJP, Patel carried a wad of Rs 500 currency notes to a press conference and claimed that the ruling BJP offered him Rs 1 crore to join the party.

Patel, who was one of the conveners of Hardik Patel’s Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) joined the BJP on Saturday with Varun Patel and Reshma Patel, two other conveners.

“I was promised Rs 1 crore. The deal was to be done by BJP state president Jitu Vaghani through a builder. Varun Patel gave me rs 10 lakh as token on Sunday. Before the BJP can deliver Rs 90 lakh, I have exposed them,” Patel said.

The BJP denied the allegations. Party spokesperson Bharat Pandya said Patel first approached the party and then changed his stand. “... The entire drama was staged managed on behalf of the Congress,’’ he claimed.

Varun Patel also distanced himself from the allegations saying, “Narendra Patel should take the matter to the police if he is genuine. If he was right, he should have waited for the rest of the amount to be delivered and then produced entire Rs 1 crore to the press’’.

Meanwhile, another Patidar leader, Nikhil Savani, on Monday said he was leaving the BJP, “upset over the ₹1 crore offered to Patel”. “I had joined the BJP 15 days back. But I realized that BJP is interested in nothing but vote bank politics. It is out to buy the community. That is why I have resigned today,’’ he alleged.

The Patidar community, once a staunch BJP supporter, is at war with the party over its demand for reservation in education and government jobs. The Patels account for 12-13% of the state’s population and can influence the outcome in nearly 60 of the state’s 182 seats.

First Published: Oct 23, 2017 07:35 IST