Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel wants the Congress to give over 30 tickets to relatives and close aides of PAAS members for the two-phase Gujarat Assembly polls next month, according to sources.
In a meeting held earlier this month, in which senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal and party in-charge for Gujarat elections, Ashok Gehlot, among others, were present to discuss the prospects of forming an alliance with PAAS for polls in the state, Hardik Patel is supposed to have put forward his demand for more than 30 seats for relatives and close aides of PAAS members, the sources said.
A source close to PAAS said: “The names seeking poll tickets suggested by the PAAS include Manoj Panara from Morbi constituency, Varun Patel from Viramgam, Kirit Patel from Patan, Lalit Basoa from Lathi, Dinesh Bambhaniya from Gondal and Dharam Badhwar from the Gariadhar seat, besides others.”
“Hardik Patel also suggested names of several PAAS members for the Assembly elections, including Bhavesh Patel, Dilip Sabwab, Nachiketa and Geeta Patel. All the four were closely linked to the PAAS and had participated in the reservation demand agitation in the state and are now willing to contest the upcoming polls,” the same source said.
However, denying that any demand was raised by PAAS members, Raju Patel, a close aide of Hardik Patel and spokesperson of PAAS, told The Sunday Guardian: “Every individual is free to contest the elections. PAAS has offered its conditional support to the Congress party and if the party gives poll tickets to anyone, there should not be any problem.”
“PAAS has already made it clear that the organisation’s main aim is to get OBC quota for the poor upper caste Patel community and it has no intention of contesting any elections in the state,” Raju Patel said. On a similar vein, Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president Bharatsinh Solanki also denied having knowledge of any such demand having been raised during the meetingwith Hardik Patel. “I am not aware of any such demands and if there is any, the party will decide further,” Solanki told The Sunday Guardian.
Commenting on the issue, Gujarat BJP spokesperson I.K. Jadeja said, “PAAS is the B-team of the Congress in Gujarat and voters are not going to trust these groups. There is a BJP wave in the state and the party is confident of winning with a thumping majority.”