Ahead of the crucial polls in the state, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has received twin blows in quick succession. First, Narendra Patel, Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader in north Gujarat, quit the saffron party on Sunday night, alleging that he was offered a bribe of Rs 1 crore.
Patel made the allegation within hours of joining the BJP. The Patidar leader also produced Rs 10 lakh cash, which he claimed was the advance money given to him by the BJP, in front of media personnel. One doesn’t know if Patel’s allegation is true or not. This has however turned into a big controversy amid the quest of parties to get influential Patidar community to vote for them.
“I was offered Rs 1 crore to join the Bharatiya Janata Party. I have already been given Rs 10 lakh advance. Varun Patel took me to a meeting where it was discussed that I will be given Rs 1 Cr and received the money from his hands. This Rs 10 lakh is no hard-earned money. This is the result of corruption. I am a shaheed of Mehsana. I will return this money. I don’t want this money. I have joined this movement only for Patidars, not for my political interests,” Narendra Patel told mediapersons.
Varun Patel is also a Patidar leader, who had joined the BJP two days ago.
Second, within a few hour after Patel’s shocking allegation, another Patidar leader Nikhil Sawani also quit the BJP, saying he was “upset” after learning that the party tried to bribe Narendra Patel.
Incidentally, Sawani had joined the BJP just 15 days ago after the state government made some assurances to Hardik Patel’s Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) on reservations for the Patel community.
Sawani is now likely to join Congress ahead of the crucial Gujarat Assembly elections. “I will seek Rahul Gandhi’s appointment, meet him and put forward my viewpoint,” Sawani said after resigning from BJP. Unlike Patel, Sawani, however, said he was not offered any money to join the BJP. “I was not offered money to join BJP. Now I have resigned because they are just offering lollipop, fulfilling nothing,” Sawani said.
On Narendra Patel’s bribery allegation, Sawani said, ” I have heard about Rs 1 crore offer by BJP to Narendra Patel. I’m upset. I am leaving BJP today. I congratulate Narendra Patel. He comes from a small family but still, he didn’t choose Rs 1 crore.”
Patidars are a politically influential community in Gujarat. Led by Hardik Patel, the Patidars have been up in arms against the state government for the last 2-3 years, demanding reservation in jobs and education under the OBC quota for them.
Patidars have traditionally voted for the BJP in the state. This time, however, it is not yet clear whether they would again pick the saffron party or vote for the Congress.