In a dramatic turn of events late on Sunday night, senior Patidar leader from north Gujarat, Narendra Patel, alleged that he was offered Rs 1 crore to join the BJP, just hours after he joined the party in the presence of Hardik Patel’s former key aide Varun Patel.
In a late night press conference in Ahmedabad, Narendra Patel spread out bundles of Rs 500 notes worth Rs 10 lakh before the media and claimed that it was the “advance” he received from the BJP. He alleged that Varun Patel, who recently joined the BJP, took him to meet State president Jitubhai Vaghani and offered him the “token” cash.
“Varun took me around in Gandhinagar and then took me to Shree Kamalam office of the BJP and introduced me to Jitubhai Vaghani and some ministers. He then took me to a room and handed over a bag of Rs 10 lakh cash as token and promised to pay me Rs 90 lakh tomorrow after a party function which I was required to attend,” he said.
“I don’t need this money, I have joined this campaign for the welfare of the Patidars. I did not come here for political gains…This money was not earned through hard work. It is corrupt money,” he added.
Earlier on Sunday, he joined the BJP in the presence of media and was welcomed with a saffron scarf. “It all happened in so much hurry, they immediately called the media to present me and I had to make that show,” he said.
“They made a deal of Rs 1 crore on me. One crore? Even if they bestow the entire Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on me, I will not be bought over. Even if I have to die, fighting for the cause,” Patel claimed.
Narendra Patel, who is the convenor of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), north Gujarat, last month lodged a police complaint against Hardik Patel and three supporters in Patan. He, however, withdrew it later.
Rejecting the allegations, Varun Patel told news agency ANI the Patidars have realised the Congress gameplan and are supporting the BJP. “The allegations are baseless and motivated by Congress as the party fears that Patidars are swinging back to BJP after realising the Congress gameplan,” he said.
BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya described last night’s evens as “fabricated drama” and questioned Narendra Patel’s motives. “It is all fabricated drama. He came with Varun Patel to join BJP and did a U-turn in 2-3 hours,” he said.
On Saturday, key PAAS leader Varun Patel and Reshma Patel joined the BJP in the presence of Deputy CM Nitin Patel, Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja and state BJP chief Jitu Vaghani.
Hardik Patel mocked his former aides decision to leave the party. “The centipede runs even after losing its legs!! The people are with me. I will run as long as they are with me,” he tweeted.
This came a day after the Congress offered poll ticket to three youth leaders — Hardik Patel of PAAS, OBC leader Alpesh Thakor and Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani.
The Aam Aadmi Party demanded a Supreme Court-monitored probe into allegations that the BJP offered Rs 1 crore to a Patidar leader in Gujarat to switch loyalties. AAP national spokesperson Ashutosh told a press conference that the BJP tries to “poach” leaders from other parties by using money or muscle power before every election.
“This is the real face of the BJP,” he stressed, claiming that similar attempts involving AAP leaders were made in the past in the national capital.