The Congress on Monday demanded a court-monitored probe into allegations levelled by a Patidar leader from north Gujarat that he was offered Rs 1 crore to join the Bharatiya Janata Party in poll-bound Gujarat.
Narendra Patel of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) led by Hardik Patel, claimed on Sunday that the BJP, the ruling party in Gujarat, had attempted to buy his political loyalty for Rs 1 crore and even paid Rs 10 lakh in advance.
The bribery allegations were “very serious” and Narendra Patel had accused Gujarat BJP President Jitubhai Vaghani as being the culprit, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said.
“It calls for a reaction from Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) and BJP President (Amit Shah). It calls for registration of an FIR against the Gujarat BJP leaders. It calls for investigation under the supervision of a Gujarat High Court Judge. If this is not checked, the sanctity of the Gujarat election process will be questioned in times to come,” Tewari said.
The Congress leader said it was incumbent on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to investigate the allegations as these were being levelled against his own party’s leaders.
The former Union Minister also claimed that it was the third case in the last 24 hours and is indicative of the “ignorance, arrogance, and frustration” within the BJP.
Tewari also accused the BJP of trying to “break” the people-led movements opposed to the BJP rule in Gujarat.
“Why is the BJP trying to coerce, lure, bribe leaders of this movement and trying to break it? Isn’t it a clear sign of their frustration? Isn’t it a clear manifestation of their demoralisation?” he asked.
Tewari said Patel leader Nikhil Sawani quit the BJP within days of joining it.
He said “allegations of bribery” were also levelled by Congress MLAs during the Rajya Sabha elections earlier this year.
“The Congress MLAs in Gujarat were coerced, and attempts to bribe them were made. Every instrumentality of the state and central governments was misused by the BJP-led Union government. The Income Tax Department, Enforcement Directorate, and God knows which other agency was tasked to raid a resort where the MLAs were staying in order to protect themselves.”
Tewari said truth however prevailed in the end and the BJP lost the Rajya Sabha polls.
The Congress leader also criticised Modi for saying in Gujarat on Sunday that the Centre would not give a single rupee to any state opposed to ‘vikas’ or development.
“The Prime Minister has insulted 6.5 crore Gujaratis by hinting that he will give money only to those states which vote for Modi’s development.”
“But the public money is not anyone’s private property and such threats constitute an assault on the Centre-State relations and federalism,” the Congress leader said.
He said: “Modi has unleashed the most direct attack on federalism by threatening the Gujarat people if they don’t vote for the BJP.”
Asked on the Election Commission clarification on the Gujarat polls, Tewari said: “What they have articulated is not rocket science.”
“The fundamental question is — why has the Election Commission digressed from time-honoured convention that elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat are held simultaneously?
“Why have election dates in Gujarat not been declared? Why has the Model Code of Conduct not been enforced?” he asked.
“They (BJP) are trying their best to delay Gujarat elections as much as possible so that the Prime Minister can dole out as many sops as possible in that short time,” he added.