Two days after two of his former associates accused him of using the Patidar quota agitation as a “tool to nurture his leadership ambition”, Hardik Patel on Wednesday hit back saying his detractors were “playing into the hands of some in the BJP government in Gujarat who were trying to weaken the protest” by maligning his image.
Seeking to counter his rivals, Hardik’s Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), the outfit leading the agitation for OBC status for the community and reservation in jobs and
education, has called a special meeting on 29 August at Udaipur where he has moved after being granted bail by the Gujarat High Court.
Two days ago, two of his former close aides — Chirag and Ketan Patel — had levelled allegations against Hardik in an open letter which hinted at cracks in his outfit.
In the letter, they had alleged that 23-year-old Hardik “used” the agitation as a “tool to satisfy his ambition to emerge as a leader and a ‘crorepati’ (millionaire) within a year of launching it.
Reacting to the allegations, Hardik told PTI that Chirag and Ketan were levelling “false allegations at the behest of the BJP government in the state”.
“I strongly believe that both Chirag and Ketan are playing into the hands of some people in the state government who are trying to weaken the protest by maligning my image. But, they will not succeed as the people know that I am clean. The Patel community knows who I am,” he said.
“There is no need to offer an explanation to these allegations as I know that I am not at fault. This is not new to me. Even when I was in jail, certain elements had tried to malign my image by claiming that I had amassed Rs 80 lakh through the agitation. In the end, I came out clean,” he added.
Hardik has moved to Udaipur in Rajasthan after being granted bail by the High Court last month in two sedition cases lodged against him at Ahmedabad and Surat. One of the
conditions of bail was he would stay outside Gujarat for the next six months.