MEHSANA/NEW DELHI: A court in Visnagar, Gujarat, on Wednesday issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against quota agitation leader Hardik Patel after he failed to appear before it for the second consecutive time in a case of vandalising the office of a BJP MLA during the quota stir in 2015. The warrant was issued against Hardik Patel, convener of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, and six others, including Sardar Parel Group convener Lalji Patel, by Visnagar sessions court judge V P Agarwal.
Hardik Patel and others are accused of ransacking the office of Visnagar MLA Rishikesh Patel during the protest rally of Patidars in July 2015. Hardik Patel and others had in the past secured bail in the case. The quota leader, through his lawyer Rajendra Patel, on Wednesday moved an application seeking exemption from personal appearance citing his busy schedule. However, the court rejected his plea.
While the PAAS convener failed to appear before the court for the second time, Lalji Patel and others remained absent for the first time.
The Congress party accused the BJP of playing vindictive politics and said the warrant was a symptom of undeclared emergency. “Non-bailable warrant against Hardik is vindictive. Does the BJP plan to contest the elections by pressuring and threatening the young voices of Gujarat,” AICC general secretary in charge of Gujarat Ashok Gehlot said. “This is symptomatic of BJP’s undeclared emergency,” he said.
The Congress has been wooing Hardik in the hope of garnering the crucial Patel votes in the Assembly polls on December 9 and 14 for the 182-seat Gujarat assembly. The Patels are miffed with the BJP as their demand for quota in jobs and education was not met by the state government.
Gehlot charged that the warrant for Hardik showed the BJP was fearing a defeat in the polls and has therefore taken the condemnable step. “BJP should be ashamed of its dirty tactics,” said Gehlot, who had protested the search operations conducted by state intelligence agencies in Ahmedabad hotels on Monday to locate Hardik. “BJP is so under confident regarding the Gujarat polls that in their desperation they did everything undemocratic — used money power to buy support and ordered surveillance,” said Gehlot, referring to the claim by former Hardik aide Narendra Patel that the BJP promised to give him `1 crore to switch loyalties.