Hardik Patel’s supporters vandalised Congress offices in Gujarat as its first list ‘ignored’ his candidates; NCP & Dalit leaders too want a fair deal.
New Delhi: The Congress party’s election preparations in Gujarat have run into trouble, with allies who were coming forward to support it resorting to violence over the first list of tickets announced Sunday.
Members of the Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) vandalised some Congress offices in the state for ignoring their demands and not consulting them before announcing the list of candidates.
“The Congress didn’t take us into confidence before announcing the list. They gave tickets to a few PAAS functionaries without consulting us. We will protest outside Congress offices across the state for ignoring Patidars,” said Dinesh Bambhania, a PAAS convener who was in talks with the Congress.
Earlier on Sunday, Bambhania announced that a deal had been reached between the PAAS and the Congress and that Hardik Patel would make an announcement regarding this in Rajkot Monday.
However, PAAS members were out on the streets hours later, protesting against the Congress’ list of candidates, which includes 23 Patidars. The list, however, mentions only two candidates from PAAS.
— ANI (@ANI) November 20, 2017
Sources told ThePrint that PAAS was asking for at least 12 tickets for their leaders and the Congress had given an assurance that not all but most of the names suggested by it would get tickets.
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel and Gujarat in-charge Ashok Gehlot are in talks with Hardik Patel to find a solution. It is believed that the party is willing to accommodate a few more candidates in the list as demanded by the PAAS.
The announcement of the deal, supposed to be made by Hardik at a press conference Monday, has been postponed for a while until a final agreement is reached.
Meanwhile, the Congress was also trying to seal a deal with Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) — the latter had demanded 10 seats.
But with the Congress announcing its first list, the NCP seems to have lost interest in the alliance proposal. “We were expecting the Congress to reach us before finalising the names. But it seems that the party is not interested in an alliance. Now, we will aim for a solo fight and will do better in the elections,” senior NCP leader Praful Patel told ThePrint.
Even Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani and OBC leader Alpesh Thakor, who recently joined Congress, were putting pressure on the party to give tickets to their people.
Sources said Alpesh demanded 12 tickets to his candidates and asked some of them to even start campaigning in their constituencies. “I don’t have any demand, nor am I putting pressure on the party. We are just making some suggestions so that we can defeat the BJP in Gujarat,” said Thakor.
Similarly, Mevani has asked the Congress to accommodate 10 Dalit names who would play a “crucial role” in certain seats although he himself is not willing to contest the election..
While the Congress is still struggling with these demands, the BJP has come out with its third list of candidates.