IN WHAT appears to be fault lines appearing in the Patel quota movement that had rocked Gujarat recently, Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel Tuesday rubbished allegations of fund misuse levelled in a letter by two colleagues from the organisation. This comes on a day a third colleague wrote to Hardik, accusing one of the two PAAS leaders of being hand in glove with the BJP.
On Monday, PAAS co-convenors Chirag Patel and Ketan Patel from Ahmedabad had sent a letter to Hardik and accused him of using funds collected from Patidar donations “to better his style of living”.
On Tuesday, Hardik told The Indian Express: “I do not need to respond (to the allegation) because I am true to the cause. They say I have become a crorepati, then why are those who contributed the money not levelling charges against me?”
Both Chirag and Ketan were in jail with Hardik on sedition charges and are now out on bail. The letter, much discussed on social media, mentions that the funds were collected to help families of men either killed or injured in the Patidar quota agitation that had turned violent.
Accusing Hardik of taking the entire credit for the success of the agitation by repeatedly emphasising that he was in jail for nine months, Chintan and Ketan wrote, “We and other Patidar leaders had also gone to jail.”
On Tuesday, a third Patidar leader from north Gujarat, Abhishek Patel, wrote to Hardik and accused Ketan Patel of being “in touch with BJP leaders”. The Indian Express has a copy of the letter, in which Abhishek, social media convenor of PAAS, writes that he was “very close” to Ketan Patel, and was “with him” before he went to jail and also after he emerged free on bail. “During the agitation I was witness to conversations between Ketan Patel and BJP leaders…(allegedly asking Patel) to work towards breaking the agitation,” he wrote.
Ketan and Chirag Patel did not answer their phone, or reply to text messages, when The Indian Express tried to contact them Tuesday for their reaction.
Abhishek Patel’s letter, with copies marked to PAAS’s Surat co-convenors Nikhil Sawani and Dharmik Malaviya, also claims that a recent meeting of Patidar businessmen included a businessman “who has good relations with BJP leaders”. The meeting, Abhishek wrote, discussed raising funds for the family of Patidar youths killed in the agitation last year.
“The industrialist, under the pretext of giving funds, laid down a condition that they would have to work to defame Hardik Patel and other convenors. I told Ketan that…(this) would weaken the unity of our community. Ketan Patel told me not to think much of it, and then I walked out,” Abhishek wrote.
Confirming that he has received a copy, Nikhil Sawani said, “Details mentioned by Abhishek are true…. People from the Patidar community are still with Hardik Patel, and will remain with him. Allegations (against Hardik) are baseless.”