Updated: February 9, 2021 12:35:12 am
TENSION between the Congress and the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) over allocation of tickets for the Surat Municipal Corporation elections has put the grand old party in a fix. After Surat’s PAAS convenor, Dharmik Malaviya, who was given the Congress mandate from civic ward 3, did not file nomination in protest, the Congress will be forced to contest on 119 of the total 120 seats in the civic body polls.
The PAAS leaders had sought three tickets from the Congress for SMC polls, but were given just one. Apart from Malaviya, it wanted tickets for Vilasben Dhorajiya from ward 17, and Vijay Panseriya, Congress’s sitting councillor from ward 16.
Upset that only one of the names was accepted, PAAS leader Alpesh Katheriya Sunday declared the PAAS would not support the Congress candidates in the civic polls and also not allow the party to organise public meetings in the Patidar-dominated areas of Surat city.
Congress leaders had reached out to social leaders and businessmen from the Patidar community and urged them to convince Katheirya and Malaviya. One such meeting, held at a Patidar-dominated area of Surat city Monday, saw participation of Congress leaders, Patidar community businessmen and leaders, and PAAS convenors, but ended without any resolution, sources said.
PAAS convenor Dharmik Malaviya told The Indian Express, “We have supported the Congress in last municipal elections and this time we demanded just three tickets, of which one is sitting Congress councillor Vijay Panseriya from ward 16. We had sought a ticket for Vilasben Dhorajiya from ward 17 and for me from ward 3. Vilasben is the wife of advocate Sanjay Dhorajiya who is fighting PAAS cases in the court… We will not allow any public meeting of Congress state leader in the Patidar-dominated areas in Surat city. I have also not filed my candidature form.”
Congress leader and former leader of opposition in SMC, Praful Togadiya, said the party was trying to pacify the PAAS leaders. “We are sure that they will be convinced but it will take more time and few more meetings,” he said.
In 2015, when the Patidar movement seeking reservations was at its peak, the PAAS had supported Congress candidates in Surat civic elections. For the first time, a total of 23 Congress candidates were victorious in Patidar-dominated wards like Varachha, Kapodara, Puna West, Puna East, Sarthana, Mota Varachha. While the Congress has a total 36 councillors is SMC, the BJP has 80.
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