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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

Allegations, defections galore: All that happened in Gujarat politics in a week

Here is the past week in news on developments related to the upcoming Gujarat assembly election.

india Updated: Oct 23, 2017 13:42 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at a public meeting in Ghogha in Gujarat on Sunday. Modi alleged that the Congress blocked Gujarat’s development.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at a public meeting in Ghogha in Gujarat on Sunday. Modi alleged that the Congress blocked Gujarat’s development. (PTIt)

The run-up to the Gujarat election is heating up, with political leaders trading barbs ahead of elections in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state.

While the Opposition has attacked the ruling BJP over the Election Commission’s decision to not announce Gujarat poll dates with those for Himachal Pradesh, a Patidar leader has accused the party of offering a bribe.

Here are big developments related to the upcoming Gujarat elections from the past week:


Patidar leader alleges BJP offered him Rs 1-crore bribe

A leader of the influential Patidar community in Gujarat carried wads of currency notes to a press conference, saying the ruling BJP offered him Rs 1 crore to join the party.

Narendra Patel spoke to the press within hours of “joining” the BJP, which denied the allegations.

Despite the statement, another Patidar leader, Nikhil Sawani, on Monday morning said he was leaving the BJP, “upset over the Rs 1 crore offered to Patel”.

“I am submitting my resignation on account of the unfulfilled promises that were made by the BJP for the betterment of the Patidar community,” he said. The Patidar community, once a staunch supporter, is at war with the BJP 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 around 50 of the state’s 182 seats.

EC denting its own credibility, says Congress

The Congress said on Monday that the Election Commission (EC) has allowed its own credibility to be dented by not announcing the poll dates in Gujarat, while adding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not a ‘shahenshah’ (emperor) and India was not his ‘sultanat’ (empire).

“Does the Prime Minister have the authority legal or constitutional to prevent the announcement of the dates by the Election Commission for Gujarat elections? The credibility of ECI has been respected not only in this country but has inspired trust and confidence across the world. Today, the EC has allowed its own credibility to be dented by invoking the model code of conduct in the state of Gujarat,” Congress leader Anand Sharma said.


PM Modi hits out at Congress for questioning EC

Prime Minister Narendra Modi hit out at the Congress on Sunday for questioning the Election Commission for not announcing the poll schedule for Gujarat along with Himachal Pradesh.

The Congress has no moral right to question the constitutional body, Modi said.

The Congress has alleged that the Modi-led government had pressured the EC to delay the announcement of Gujarat election schedule, so that the prime minister could offer sops to his home state before the model code of conduct came into force.

Modi said he laid foundation stones or inaugurated development works of Rs 3,600 crore whereas the budget of Gujarat government a few years ago was Rs 10,000 crore.

Modi inaugurated a Rs 650-crore roll on-roll off (Ro-Ro) ferry service that reduces travel time by six hours between Saurashtra and South Gujarat in the election-bound state.

Modi govt is ‘a government of excuses’: Congress

The Congress on Sunday dubbed Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) dispensation as a ‘government of excuses’.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said: “It’s (Modi government) a government of excuses, by excuses, for excuses, and for excuses. Every time something is not done, they say we were obstructed.”

He was reacting to PM Modi’s statement that he had to face the hostility of the Centre when he was the Gujarat CM in 2012. The Congress was then heading the UPA government at Centre.


OBC leader Alpesh to join Congress, two Hardik aides embrace BJP

Aggressive young Gujarat OBC leader Alpesh Thakore on Saturday announced he was joining the Congress, as state Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki urged firebrand Patidar spearhead Hardik Patel and Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani to also join the party. The ruling BJP got a boost as two leaders from Patel’s Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) shook hands with the party.

Thakore, who has emerged as a strong OBC leader along with Hardik Patel and Jignesh Mewani during the last two years, announced his move in New Delhi after a meeting with Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, and Rahul Gandhi.

Soon after, Varun Patel and Reshma Patel, Patidar leaders closely associated with the PAAS movement, joined the BJP, praising the ruling party.

Gujarat election is not a BJP-Cong fight: Hardik Patel

Gujarat’s Patidar leader Hardik Patel on Saturday turned down the Congress’ invitation to fight the Gujarat assembly election jointly, saying the polls were not a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Congress fight.

Patel was responding to Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki invitation to him and other caste-based leaders to join in the fight against the BJP in the Gujarat Assembly polls.


Chidambaram says EC on ‘extended holiday’

Congress leader P Chidambaram took a swipe at the Election Commission for not announcing the schedule for the upcoming polls in Gujarat yet, saying wryly it has “authorised” Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare the dates at his “last rally” in the state.

In a series of tweets, the former finance and home minister said the Election Commission will be “recalled” from its “extended holiday” after the Gujarat government has announced all “concessions and freebies”. The remarks came before Modi’s visit to Gujarat on Sunday.

Chidambaram’s criticism of EC part of ‘save Rahul’ campaign

The BJP said on Friday that Congress leader P Chidambaram’s criticism of the Election Commission for not announcing Gujarat poll dates was part of the party’s ‘save Rahul’ campaign as it fears that a defeat in the election will stall his elevation to the post of party chief.

BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao defended the Election Commission’s decision of not announcing the Gujarat poll dates with that of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly election, saying the model code of conduct is expected to be in force for not more than 45 days and the election in the western state was expected in December.


Gujarat government doles out sops

Ahead of assembly polls in Gujarat, the state government has announced a slew of sops for teachers, employees of municipalities and others. The polls are due later this year.

The government said “fixed-pay” teachers of government- aided secondary and higher secondary schools across the state would get a significant hike in their salaries. Employees of 105 municipalities would now get salaries according to the provisions of the 7th Pay Commission.

The Gujarat government also raised the annual income cap from Rs 1.50 lakh to Rs 2.50 lakh for the ‘Ma-Vatsalya’ scheme for free medical treatment of up to Rs 2 lakh for serious ailments.


HC refuses to take up PIL against EC not giving poll dates

The Gujarat High Court refused to take up a PIL challenging the decision of the Election Commission to not announce the dates of assembly elections for the state along with that of Himachal Pradesh.


There will be rain of jumlas now, Rahul mocks Modi’s Gujarat visit

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in poll-bound Gujarat on Monday, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Monday mockingly said that it would see “a rain of jumlas”.

“Mausam ka haal: Chunao se pehle Gujarat mai aaj hogi jumlo ki barish (Before the polls in Gujarat, there will be a rain of jumlas),” said Gandhi on Twitter, attaching a Hindustan Times report.