Gujarat local body polls: Congress fields 3 PAAS leaders' wives

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Ahmedabad, Nov 20: Looking to cash in what it claimed was the anti-BJP sentiment among the Patel community in Gujarat, Congress has given tickets to three women candidates for local body polls on November 22 whose husbands are associated with the Hardik Patel-led quota stir.

Two of these three Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leaders -- Amrish Patel of the city here and Nilesh Erwadia from Morbi town of Saurashtra -- are facing sedition charges along with Hardik.

Gujarat

While Erwadia is behind bars after his arrest in September, Amrish, though charged with sedition by the city crime branch, was not arrested following high court's intervention.

Congress has fielded Erwadia's wife Rekha for the Morbi district panchayat while Amrish's wife Sadhna is the party's candidate for Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC)'s Ghatlodia ward in the upcoming polls.

The AMC ward is considered a stronghold of BJP as Chief Minister Anandiben Patel is the Ghatlodia MLA. Further, PAAS convener Atul Patel's wife Chetna has been given the ticket for Chandlodia ward in the city by Congress.

According to Sadhna, who is contesting the elections for the first time, Patel community will come together to uproot BJP in the polls.

"Everyone in Gujarat saw how this BJP-led government committed atrocities on the Patel community during our agitation. To silence our voice, the government even slapped false charges of sedition on Hardik and a few others, including my husband," claimed Sadhna.

"Though I have never contested any elections in the past, I have accepted the Congress ticket to fight against BJP. The Patel community is now united and we have decided to uproot BJP. We will show them what this community can do," she said.

Patels have always been seen as a 'loyal' votebank of BJP, but Congress now believes that things have changed.

"There is so much anger against BJP and this government as Patel leaders were falsely implicated just because they were demanding reservation. We have selected these women because they wanted to fight against this autocratic government," said state Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi.

In light of this development, BJP, once again found a chance to allege that Congress was behind the Patel quota agitation.

"By giving tickets to PAAS members' wives, Congress is now completely exposed. Many PAAS conveners are from Congress, but they never admitted to it. Congress is just trying to take advantage of the situation, but they won't get anything out of it as the Patel community is still with us," said state BJP's media convener Harshad Patel.

Voting for the municipal corporations of Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, Jamnagar and Bhavnagar will take place on November 22, while that for 31 district panchayats, 230 taluka panchayats and 56 municipalities will take place on November 29.

PTI

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