PAAS members level graft allegations against Hardik, misuse of platform

Gandhinagar: Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convener and former Gujarat Congress working president, Hardik Patel is under attack from his one time associates and fan followers. They have also accused him of indulging in corruption. Hardik is not reachable for comment.

The latest allegation has been made by Hardik Patel’s one time associate Bhavesh Somani from Bhavnagar, who said that he had hurled ‘Chappal’ on Hardik Patel’s instruction on the then Union Minister of State Mansukh Mandaviya.

Somani has also levelled serious allegations of corruption against Hardik Patel. He said that Hardik took Rs 23 lakh bribe to give ticket for the Gariyadhar assembly constituency election in 2017. “Rs 10 lakh cash was delivered to his father Bharatbhai at his Ahmedabad flat and the rest was paid through Angadia services in two instalments,” Somani said.

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Hardik Patel is tight-lipped on the issue. When IANS contacted him over phone and through text message, he did not respond.

While Hardik is cornered with various allegations, his one time associate Vandana Patel has come out in his support. She has appealed Patidars and PAAS workers to stop making allegations against Hardik Patel in public. She cited the unwritten rule of the tribal community, where no one makes allegations against their leaders if they switch sides. She said Ashwin Kotawal and Keval Joshiyara joined BJP, but the tribal community did not criticise them.

“These allegations can’t be termed baseless,” said Rajendrasinh Gohil, president of the Bhavnagar District Congress Committee. Gohil said, “I know Bhavesh Somani was one of the trustworthy and confidant of Hardik Patel in Bhavnagar. I have heard about him demanding money to organise Hardik’s public meeting in Bhavnagar district, in the run up to the elections. Gariadhar Congress candidate Paresh Kheni was a party worker as well as the PAAS worker too.”

People will question and make such allegations, argues Dhanji Patidar, PAAS worker from Unava in the Mehsana district, and said, “why is Hardik Patel not disclosing his family’s annual income before and after he headed PAAS movement. What is his source of income? Does he do a job anywhere? Does he have investment in any industry? How is he meeting his expenses and living a lavish lifestyle?”

“Once a Patidar leader joins politics, such allegations will keep cropping up,” said Varun Patel, PAAS convener and now BJP leader, on specific corruption allegations against Hardik Patel. He said, “It is difficult to either call it baseless or true, but one thing is sure, where there is a smoke, there is a fire.”

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