The Congress on Sunday evening released its first list of 77 candidates for the upcoming Gujarat Assembly elections, and a day before Patidar leader Hardik Patel is expected to meet Congress' top brass to finalise their agreement.
Patel said on Sunday the Congress had accepted his demand for quotas in jobs and education for the Patidar community, and that a formal announcement will be made on Monday morning.
File image of Hardik Patel. Courtesy: CNN-News18
However, even as Patel gets ready to join hands with the Congress, PAAS members have expressed anger about Congress' candidate list, and are protesting in many parts of the state, claiming they were not given proper representation. Two PAAS members were given tickets in the first list, while the Hardik Patel-led organisation had demanded 20 seats.
Around 20 other Patel candidates, who are not members of PAAS, also find mention in the list. The two who have been given tickets are Lalit Vasoya from Dhoraji and Amit Thummar from Junagadh seat.
A report on The Hindu said that Hardik Patel will address a rally in Rajkot on Monday, where the tie-up with Congress will be announced.
"Hardik himself will share the details on Monday, when he will also address a rally in Chief Minister Vijay Rupani's constituency in Rajkot," PAAS convenor Dinesh Bhambania added.
But Gujarat Congress president Bharat Solanki told the media, "Our meeting with PAAS leaders was positive and they have agreed on their demands."
In Surat, PAAS members ghearoed the city unit office late in the night and indulged in sloganeering against the Congress. "Our community members have not been given proper representation in the list that has been declared. We will not allow any Congress office to function in the state," Surat city PAAS convenor Dharmik Malaviya told reporters.
In Ahmedabad, Bhambania reached Solanki's house with his supporters, to represent their case. "We will organise protests in front of every office of the Congress across the state. Bharatsinh Solanki should talk to us," he said.
However, Solanki was not present at his Ahmedabad residence. "The Congress has given tickets to two of our members without taking us into confidence. Other Patel candidates that they have selected are bogus. We will hold a massive protests against Congress," another PAAS convenor Alpesh Kathiria said.
Earlier in the day, PAAS mebers led by Bhambania and Kahiria had met Solanki and other Congress leaders. After the meeting, it was declared that they had reached a compromise formula.
Sources in the party had earlier said that the PAAS was demanding around 20 seats and negotiations were on between the PAAS and Congress on seat sharing. Meanwhile, senior leader Shaktisinh Gohil who is an MLA from Abdasa of Kutch has been fielded from Mandvi. Gohil's chance of being a chief ministerial candidate brightened after Solanki said that he would not contest the polls.
The party has fielded another senior leader Arjun Modhvaida from Porbandar, which he had lost in 2012. The party has given tickets to all its sitting MLAs on the seats where names were released.
The party has fielded four former MPs in the list of 77 for the first phase of the election scheduled on 9 December. It has fielded Kunverjai Bavaliya from Jasdan, Soma Patel from Limbdi, Tushar Chaudhary from Mahua and Virji Thummer from Lathi.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Nov 24, 2017 17:01 PM