Gujarat elections: Congress-PAAS deal hits snag, BJP releases 3rd candidate list


Ahmedabad: Amid uncertainty over the deal between the Congress and Hardik Patel-led Patel Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday released its third list of 28 candidates, giving tickets to as many as 15 Patidar leaders, for Gujarat elections.

The Congress, which released its first list of 77 candidates, is likely to do a rethink on it and make some changes after some PAAS leaders protested on Sunday, even attacking the party’s Surat office, said two Congress officials close to the development.

BJP, which dropped three sitting ministers, gave tickets to former minister Saurabh Patel from Botad and ex-chief of Gujarat BJP R.C. Faldu from Jamnagar South. Both are from the Patel, or Patidar, community.

The BJP dropped minister Nanu Vanani from the Patidar dominated Katargam seat in Surat and gave a ticket to Vinubhai Moradiya in his place. Other ministers who were dropped were Jayanti Kavadia from Dhrangadhra and Vallabh Vaghasia from Savarkundla. With Monday’s candidate list, the BJP has so far announced its candidates for 134 out of the total 182 seats for Gujarat elections.

The Congress and PAAS on Sunday said that they had reached an agreement on jobs and education quotas for Patels. However, their workers clashed in Surat after Congress declared its first list of 77 candidates. Police security has been beefed up at the Congress office in Ahmedabad.

“There seems to be some misunderstanding between PAAS and some Congress members and it will soon get resolved,” said Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi.

One of the two Congress officials quoted above said that the party is doing a rethink on four-to-five candidates and will soon release a revised candidate list.

The Congress list included two members of PAAS but some members alleged that the core committee of Hardik Patel’s group had not been consulted. When contacted, a PAAS official said that they had not asked for any tickets and had only gone to the Congress office for clarification but an argument spiralled out of control.

Meanwhile, Hardik Patel cancelled a rally in Gondal near Rajkot, where he was supposed to make an announcement on the formula for Patel reservation. The PAAS official, who refused to be identified as he was not the authorized spokesperson, said Patel will soon make an announcement to clear his stand.

After the two sides said they had reached an agreement on Sunday, Hardik Patel released a video on Monday which shows a person asking Patidars to stand united with the PAAS leader in his fight to defeat the BJP by taking support of the Congress.

Meanwhile, finance minister Arun Jaitley said in Ahmedabad that Congress’s move of promising Patel quota was an election gimmick, and it could not be achieved as the Supreme Court has given clear directions on reservation and has capped it at 50%.

“Congress’s whole campaign in Gujarat was launched to criticize development. This is perhaps the first time in the world that an anti-development campaign is launched by a party for an election campaign. However, their strategy has changed as it attempts to divide people now (on caste basis). Even in the eighties there were similar efforts to divide the people and rule, but the people of Gujarat gave a fitting reply,” Jaitley said, adding that the party’s goal in Gujarat was to take the development agenda further.

Gujarat elections are to be held in two phases on 9 December and 14 December and results will be declared on 18 December.