JAYESH PATEL, the BJP leader (since suspended) arrested Tuesday for the alleged rape of a nursing student at his Parul University in Vadodara, rose from strength to strength over the past few years in politics and business. Along the way, he has had run-ins with the law.
Leaders of both the Congress and the BJP, the two parties Patel has been part of since 2007, linked his growing influence to his immense wealth. They said Patel, who holds a diploma in homoeopathy, used to run a walk-in clinic in Kothi of Vadodara that for years carried out one abortion after another for the paltry fee of Rs 150. He went on to set up a homeopathy institution in Ahmedabad and finally the sprawling campus of Parul University, named after his eldest daughter and known for accepting students regardless of merit rankings.
Patel, who holds a diploma in homoeopathy, used to run a walk-in clinic in Kothi of Vadodara that for years carried out one abortion after another for the paltry fee of Rs 150. Other charges included abetting a crime (section 114), cheating (420), conspiracy (120-B) and rioting (147). From one poll to the next, his declared wealth almost doubled from Rs 3.70 crore to Rs 7.21 crore.
Patel reportedly jumped the queue of aspiring Congress candidates in 2007. “By that time, he was already known in Waghodia because of his institute,” a leader said. Patel lost both in 2007 and in 2012. During 2012, incidentally, police booked his son Devanshu after alcohol worth Rs 53,000 was found in an abandoned ambulance, allegedly belonging to Parul Institute (later university).
In 2015, Chief Minister Anandi Patel, flanked by MP Ranjan Bhatt, ministers Nitin Patel, Saurabh Patel and elected BJP MLAs of Vadodara district laid the foundation stone of a new building for Parul University, just granted university status. The university’s website describes Patel as a “prominent edupreneur with a visionary outlook towards Academic & Social Welfare”, and mentions his “unique contribution in initiating the era of Self-Financed Institutes of Higher Education in Gujarat”. The webpage with Patel’s bio data has now been taken down.
Patel had set up the self-financed Ahmedabad Homoeopathic Medical College several decades ago, in Bopal of Ahmedabad. According to sources, the college soon ran into controversies over marks and admission, before the state Homeopathic Council centralised admission procedures.
In 2013, Patel went to Limda in Waghodia and acquired agricultural land to set up Parul Institute of Engineering, under the aegis of Parul Arogya Seva Mandal Trust. Patel eventually expanded the institute to a number of faculties — design, law, agriculture, pharmacy, nursing, physiotherapy, architecture, Ayurveda, management, homoeopathy, IT & computer science, applied sciences, social work, fine arts, vocational education, library and information science, medicine, commerce, arts, vocational education.
In 2014, shortly after the Lok Sabha elections, Patel joined the BJP. The next year brought university status to Parul Institute. And in April this year, the university’s wing Parul Institute of Medical Sciences and Research got government permission to run a 150-seat MBBS course from 2016-17. According to the assessment report of the Medical Council of India dated April 12, the institution cleared scrutiny after complying with the deficiencies reported in a December 2015 assessment.