Audio clips on Cong funding Patel stir put Hardik in the dock

Agitation leader sets Nov-3 deadline for Cong to clarify stand on quota

Audio clips on Cong funding Patel stir put Hardik in the dock

Patel quota stir leader Hardik Patel, who has been cornered by his opponents on links with the Congress, on Saturday sought to distance himself from the party by sending out an ultimatum to it on quotas to Patels.

"Congress must clarify how it proposes to give reservations constitutionally by November 3. If it does not make its stand clear, an episode similar to the Amit Shah event could repeat in Surat," he tweeted on Saturday. Hardik has been claiming that if Congress clarifies its stand for quotas to Patels, he would not have any issue supporting  the party in  the Assembly election.

Several Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) members had, on September 8, 2016, apparently created ruckus at Shah's rally, forcing Shah to cut short his speech. Recently, when Shah sought to kick off Gujarat Gaurav Yatra from Karamsad on October 1, several Patel youth tried to disrupt the event by raising slogans.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is slated to hold a rally in South Gujarat  during  his three-day visit to the region from November 1 or November 3.

The statement by Hardik comes a day after audio clips purportedly of PAAS leader Narendra Patel regarding financial  dealings between PAAS and Congress began doing rounds. These clips are said to have the voice of Narendra Patel talking to an unknown person and revealing how, over time, Congress has been funding activities of the Patel quota stir.  In the audio, Narendra Patel names Ahmed Patel, political advisor to the Congress president, state Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki and former MP from Mehsana Jivabhai Patel  as  extending financial help  to PAAS activities.

Earlier, CCTV footage of Hardik sneaking into a five-star hotel where Rahul Gandhi was staying during his visit to Ahmedabad,  were aired on local television channels.

With BJP claiming that Hardik's quota stir was supported by the Congress indirectly, the CCTV footage and audio clips gave much fodder to opponents of Hardik to hit out at  him.

The Congress, on its part, has said it will  keep the current 49% quota for SC/STs and OBCs  intact and  create legal provisions for 20% quota for communities  having no reservation. "We will  give quotas for the poor and the middle class strictly as per the Constitution," Manish Doshi, Congress spokesperson, said.


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