A Patidar leader, Narendra Patel, has alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) offered him ₹1 crore to switch allegiances ahead of the upcoming assembly polls in Gujarat.
"I have already been given ₹10 lakh in advance," he claimed during a press conference in Ahmedabad. "I will not take the money, I am here for the Patel community."
He "joined" the BJP in a public ceremony on Sunday and then held the press conference soon afterwards. He alleged that the saffron party had promised to pay him the rest of the amount--₹90 lakh--on Monday. He claimed that the BJP took the help of Varun Patel, another Patidar leader who joined BJP last weekend. He was a key aide of Hardik Patel, chief of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS).
"They made a deal of Rs 1 crore on me. One crore? Even if they bestow the entire Reserve Bank of India on me, I will not be bought over. Even if I have to die, fighting for the cause," he said.
Congress party leaders have meanwhile called for a judicial probe. "During the Rajya Sabha elections also, our MLAs came out and said that they were being bribed," said senior Congress leader Manish Tiwari. "However, no action was taken. Instead, Income Tax and CBI raids took place on our MLAs."
The BJP was quick to rubbish the allegations, claiming that it was a "political conspiracy".
"These are false and baseless allegations being levelled against the party," said BJP spokesperson Zafar Islam. "Horse-trading is a Congress culture. It is not that of the BJP. This allegations have been made as part of a political conspiracy."
Meanwhile, another Patidar leader Nikhil Sawani on Monday announced his resignation from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), citing the reason to be unfulfilled promises made by the party.
Addressing a press conference, Sawani also expressed his dissent over the ₹1 crore offer that was allegedly placed in front of Narendra Patel to join hands with the BJP.
"I am submitting my resignation on account of the unfulfilled promises that were made by the BJP for the betterment of the Patidar community. The reason why I had joined was the betterment of our community. None of the four proposals spoken about have been fulfilled. It seems like it was all election propaganda to muster support on their side," he said.
"I appreciate Narendra Patel for refusing the bribe offered to him by BJP's Varun Patel. He comes from a middle-class family, yet he refused to accept the sum offered. While I was not offered any money while joining the party, I agree with Narendra Patel. Even I have heard a lot about money being offered to conveners and others," Sawani added.
When posed with a question on whether he would be changing loyalties towards the Congress Party, Sawani re-iterated that his prime agenda was the upliftment of the Patidars.
However, he also stated that he would seek the party Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi's appointment and put forward his viewpoint.
"Myself and Hardik Patel, if time permits, would seek Rahul Gandhi's appointment to put forth our view. At the end of the day, we want the Patidars to be empowered. BJPpromised a lot, but nothing materialised. My resignation has nothing to do with Congress," he said.
Earlier on Sunday, Narendra Patel, a close aide of Hardik Patel, alleged that he was offered Rs 1 crore to join the BJP, adding that he had already received Rs. 10 lakh as token money.
Flashing the wads of notes in a press conference, he alleged that, "Varun Patel took me to a meeting where it was discussed that I will be given Rs 1 crore. In the meeting, they told me to keep Rs. 10 lakh and the rest money will be given to me later."
Varun Patel, however, rejected Patel's allegations and poked holes in his claims.
"He (Narendra Patel) should have conducted the press conference after taking Rs 1 crore rather than 10 lakh," he said.
(with ANI inputs)
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