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Gujarat elections: Congress plays waiting game, PAAS in dilemma

Shorab Negi | Ahmedabad |

The Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) is currently at a very critical phase in the backdrop of Gujarat Assembly elections, with the alleged ‘sex-CD’ expose of its leader Hardik Patel surfacing, supporters defecting to BJP and non-decision regarding reservation for Patidar by the Congress party.

The PAAS leaders are now feeling the heat, as Congress drags its feet over the clarifications it has provide to the ‘samiti’ over the demands made by Hardik for soliciting the Patidar support.

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Congress had asked for some time to take legal and political advice from the experts in the field before committing to the PAAS leadership on the possibility of providing reservation to Patidar community.

Later the party is said to have provided three options to PAAS and Hardik had provided his feedback to the Congress on the options.

Since one week, the Congress has been silent on the issue, raising PAAS’s anxiety.

The PAAS leaders were invited to Delhi to discuss the final decision and its core committee members including Dinesh Bambhania, Dr Kirit Patel, Lalit Vasoya, and Manoj Panara have been kept waiting for their scheduled meeting with the Congress leaders Bharatsinh Solanki and Gujarat poll in-charge Ashok Gehlot.

Patidar ultimatum

Under fire from within the party cadres, PAAS leader Dinesh Bhambaniya has said that “If Congress does not come to us in 24 hours, then we will not give any support to the party during the elections and will oppose its candidates in Patidar strongholds.”

He further added that the PAAS leaders have been kept waiting for a response from the Congress leadership.

The ultimatum to its only major support plank to remain politically viable is a sure sign of the dilemma the party leadership is in at the moment.

On the other hand, Congress is facing its own challenges. With a slew of regional and smaller parties and supporters being brought on board, the fact that all of them have an expectation of being nominated as candidates is a major challenge in the making and is the supposedly the main reason for the delay in responding to PAAS overtures.

On the other hand, the Bhartiya Janata Party is also playing its cards carefully and if sources are to be believed, under the instructions of the government the approval to election rally by PAAS for Mansa, near Gandhinagar has been rejected by the local administration.

Mansa is crucial for Hardik as it is the stronghold and after the controversial CD expose he had announced to hold the rally in Mansa. Now with the rejection to hold any public meet in the heart of Mansa city due to its location within residential areas, Hardik’s stance is said to be turning aggressive.

The PAAS leadership is in knots as the options for the party seem to be limited and time is of the essence as post-elections the grip on the community that Hardik enjoys as of now will definitely loosen.