NEW DELHI: The Congress today demanded a court-monitored probe and an FIR against the BJP in Gujarat following allegations by a Patidar leader that he was offered Rs 1 crore to join the party.
Following the claim by Narendra Patel, North Gujarat convener of the Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi said Gujarat was priceless and could never be bought.
His party's leaders accused the BJP of insulting Gujaratis by trying to "buy" and break those raising their voice against its government.
"The way BJP is allegedly bribing Patidar leaders in Gujarat is a black spot on democracy. These allegations are serious," said Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari.
"The Congress demands that an FIR be filed against the Gujarat BJP on these allegations of bribery. We also demand an investigation by a sitting judge of the Gujarat High Court.
There should be a court-monitored investigation, because if this is not done, the entire sanctity of Gujarat elections is under question," Tewari told reporters.
Rahul Gandhi had said in a tweet earlier in the day, "Gujarat is priceless. It has never been been bought. It can never be bought. It will never be bought." Tewari targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and criticised his "Naa khaaunga, na khaane doonga" slogan. "These days he (Modi) is behaving more as the chief minister of Gujarat rather than the prime minister of India," he said Allegations of bribery by people affiliated with movements that the BJP was trying to break were being levelled in the public space and all you heard from prime minister and BJP president Amit Shah was "deafening silence", he said.
"Why is the BJP so apprehensive? Why is the BJP trying to coerce, lure, allegedly bribe the leaders of this movement and trying to break it? IsnÂ’t this a clear sign of their frustration? Isn’t this a clear manifestation of their demoralization?" Tewari asked.
He said allegations of bribery were also levelled by Congress MLAs during the Rajya Sabha election earlier this year.
"Congress MLAs were coerced, attempts to bribe them were made, every state instrumentality of the state government and the central government was abused and misused by the NDA-BJP government... The same story is now playing itself out again." Narendra Patel made his claim at a press conference yesterday, hours after he announced that he was joining the BJP in the presence of state BJP chief Jitu Vaghani.
The BJP rubbished his charges and said it was a "drama" staged at the behest of the Congress.
"All these allegations are false. It was a drama (enacted) by Narendra Patel at the behest of Congress," Gujarat BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya said.
Congress communications incharge Randeep Surjewala said, "Shah ji, (you) wonÂ’t be able to buy pride and trust of 6.5 crore Gujaratis. BJP has cheated development, Gujarat is seeking an answer." "6.5 crore-strong Gujaratis won’t get deterred, oppresed by and won’t bow down to bribery, false catchphrases. Truth will win, Gujarat will win," Surjewala said on Twitter.
Tewari also accused the prime minister of "insulting" 6.5 crore Gujaratis yesterday when he indicated that there would no development in the state if a BJP government was not elected "Yesterday, the prime minister went to Gujarat and what he did, tantamounted to an insult to 6.5 crore Gujaratis. So, the prime minister says, if you do not elect me, which is, if you do not elect the BJP, I will shut off your money. I will turn-off the tap."