Monday, 30th October 2017

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Hardik expels top aides

The Patel quota movement in Gujarat has split a year after its launch, with supreme leader Hardik Patel sacking senior aides Chirag Patel and Ketan Patel from the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti that has been leading the agitation.

By Basant Rawat
  • Published 30.08.16
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Hardik Patel

Ahmedabad, Aug. 29: The Patel quota movement in Gujarat has split a year after its launch, with supreme leader Hardik Patel sacking senior aides Chirag Patel and Ketan Patel from the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti that has been leading the agitation.

Chirag and Ketan, who had accused Hardik of spending money donated for the cause on his personal "lavish lifestyle", were expelled yesterday on the charge of conspiring with the BJP to make false charges and weaken the agitation.

The duo claim to have the support of over 400 samiti members and supporters, and have pledged to form their own outfit that will carry on the movement for Patels' inclusion within the Other Backward Classes.

Hardik, Chirag and Ketan had been among the five founding conveners of the samiti, whose "maharally" last August had brought the agitation under national spotlight and shaken the Gujarat government.

The trio figured among the six samiti leaders who were charged with sedition in October after the agitation turned violent. Hardik spent nine months in jail before receiving bail in July on condition he stay away from Gujarat for six months; the other five had walked out in April.

Hardik, 23, who has set up base at Udaipur in Rajasthan, yesterday formed a new executive committee of the samiti, which expelled Chirag and Ketan. A statement from Hardik said the duo had hurt the Patidar community's sentiments by levelling false allegations.

Ketan said Hardik was treating the samiti as his "private firm" and that he had evidence of Hardik's misuse of its funds.

"It was I who formed the samiti along with Chirag and I sought permission for the August 25 maharally last year. All official communication was done by me," he said.

BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya said his party had no role in the split: "It is their internal problem."

The new 33-member executive committee has only two of the original founding conveners: Hardik and Dinesh Patel. Apart from Ketan and Chirag, Mansukh Patel too has been dropped.

"I had not been very active because of family problems; maybe that's why I haven't been included in the new committee," Mansukh said.

Ketan alleged Hardik's purge of fellow founding conveners "speaks volumes about his style of functioning".

"He seems to treat the samiti as his personal property, which it is not. We had put in the same effort."

He added: "We'll form a new outfit as Hardik is not interested in fighting for reservation. He is only interested in politics. We'll announce our new outfit's name in a week."

Earlier, Abhik Patel, the samiti's social media coordinator in north Gujarat, had claimed in a letter circulated on social media that Ketan had been trying to topple Hardik with the BJP's support.

Brijesh Patel, spokesperson for the new committee, declared Hardik as the movement's undisputed leader and said Chirag and Ketan had been "hobnobbing with the BJP"."Both of them were making false allegations against Hardik at the behest of the BJP government," Brijesh said.