On a day when a key aide snapped ties with him, Patidar leader Hardik Patel on Thursday directly accused Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani of trying to break up their agitation by framing Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leaders in false cases as well as exerting pressure on them to quit.
Hardik, who is at present in exile in Rajasthan on orders of the Gujarat High Court, has shot off a strongly worded letter to new Chief Minister Rupani, asserting that "Either you or your BJP are trying to frame our leaders in false criminal cases as well as to drive a wedge between them in a sinister attempt to break the agitation".
Hardik has alleged that PAAS' Mahisagar district convenor Virendra Patel had been framed and jailed in an arms case by controversial police officer N.K. Amin, allegedly involved in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case, "just to terrorise our people". Amin was also an accused in the Sohrabuddin encounter case but was recently discharged.
Hardik was referring to a case of discovery of arms from the personal vehicle of Virendra Patel and alleged that Amin, who is the DSP of Mahisagar district, had falsely implicated him. "Amin is trying to warm up to the government to get extension after retirement," he asserted in the letter.
Issuing a threat, Hardik Patel has told Rupani in the letter: "Remember harassing youth which is the future of the country does not bode well for you. Youth will throw you out of power one day, if you don't stop victimising them."
Meanwhile, in yet another blow to Hardik Patel, a key functionary of the PAAS Nikhil Sawani quit the organisation in protest against the "autocratic and politically motivated" style of functioning of the firebrand leader.
Hardik Patel has called Sawani's resignation "political". A PAAS spokesman claimed that he was "forced by the ruling BJP" to resign, but Sawani denied the charge. He admitted that in the past also BJP had been trying to lure him and had also used pressure tactics to make him resign from the PAAS, but he had refused.
"If I was to succumb to pressure tactics, I would have resigned a long back. But I have resigned today only because I felt very hurt at the dictatorial attitude of Hardik leading the agitation for his personal political gains at the cost of the community," he said.
The development comes after three close aides of Hardik Patel snapped ties recently on similar allegations and that of financial bungling.
Sawani, who had played a key role during the quota stir last year in Surat and elsewhere and participated in long drawn fast demanding release of Hardik Patel from jail, has resigned from all the posts of the outfit alleging that the PAAS leader was taking all decision unanimously without consulting others and taking the agitation on a political path.
This has come as a surprise since Nikhil Sawani was recently appointed as convenor of Vadodara, Bharuch and Narmada districts, besides already holding the fort at key agitation centre Surat, as well as included on a dedicated panel to represent that PAAS in TV discussions and programmes.
Earlier, Chirag Patel and Ketan had alleged that Hardik, who is now camping in Udaipur for six months as per bail condition, was misusing the funds collected in the name of the agitation for a personal luxurious lifestyle. The two were later suspended from the outfit.
Meanwhile, PAAS leader from Morbi in Saurashtra, Nilesh Ervadiya, who was the first to be booked under sedition charges during the quota stir, also alleged that Hardik was going wayward and the agitation was losing direction. He also alleged that Hardik was being misled by certain political leaders.
In his resignation letter addressed to Hardik, Savani has alleged that the PAAS leader who used to decide everything by consensus is now taking unilateral decisions. He rued that the leader had forgotten the cause of the agitation and was playing into the hands of certain politicians.