Patel quota: Hardik Patel issues ultimatum to Congress

Ahmedabad: Patidar stir leader Hardik Patel, who has tried to shrug off allegations of growing close links with the Congress, on Saturday issued an ultimatum to the party to clarify its position on quotas for Patels by November 3.

“Congress must clarify how it proposes to give reservations constitutionally by November 3, 2017. If it does not make its stand clear, an episode similar to Amit Shah could repeat in Surat,” he tweeted.

Hardik Patel has maintained that if the Congress clarifies its stand on quotas for the Patels, he will not have issues in supporting the Congress in the forthcoming state Assembly elections.

His ‘Amit Shah situation’ remark apparently referred to the rallies in Surat and Karamsad by Shah where the BJP chief saw his speech getting disrupted by agitating Patel youngsters.

Several Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) members had on September 8 last year created ruckus at Amit Shah’s rally, forcing him to cut short his speech. Earlier this month on October 1, when Shah was kicking off the Gujarat Gaurav Yatra from Karamsad, several Patel youth tried to disrupt the event by raising slogans of ‘Jai Sardar, Jai Patidaar’.

The ultimatum by Hardik Patel comes as Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi is set to visit the state again, this time South Gujarat for a three-day visit early next month.

His statement also comes a day after a series of audio clips purportedly of PAAS leader Narendra Patel alleging financial connivance between PAAS and Congress began doing the rounds on Friday. In the audio clips, Narendra Patel is heard purportedly talking to an unknown person and revealing how over time, the Congress has been funding the Patel quota stir in the state. Narendra Patel also names Ahmed Patel, senior Congress leader and political advisor to Congress President; state Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki and former MP from Mehsana Jivabhai Patel, of having extended financial help for PAAS activities.

Earlier, CCTV footage of Hardik Patel sneaking into a five-star hotel in Ahmedabad where Rahul Gandhi was staying during his last visit to Gujarat was shown on various television channels.

The BJP has been alleging for long that the Patidar quota stir was supported by Congress from behind the scenes. The CCTV footage of the hotel visit and the audio clips of Narendra Patel have now given the BJP enough matter with which to attack the Patidar leader.

The Congress says that it will uphold the current 49 per cent quotas for SC/ST and OBCs and bring about legal provisions for providing 20 per cent quotas for the unreserved communities of the society. “We would provide quotas for the poor and middle class strictly as per the Constitution,” Manish Doshi, Congress spokesperson, said.