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BJP misusing official machinery to harass people, says Hardik Patel in Rajkot

Addressing a press conference in Rajkot, Hardik claimed that election officers, at the behest of the BJP, were not acting fairly.

Congress working president Hardik Patel on Wednesday alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was misusing government officers and police to “harass people” as it has realised that popular support is with the Congress this election.

Addressing a press conference in Rajkot, Hardik claimed that election officers, at the behest of the BJP, were not acting fairly. “In Rajkot, our city unit president Ashok Dangar went to file nomination papers 15 minutes before deadline but election officials, under pressure from BJP leaders, refused to accept them saying the time was over. Similar thing happened in Palitana and the Gujarat High Court had to intervene. Even today, the High Court has given a similar verdict for Botad district panchayat and has observed that officials of the State Election Commission are required behave impartially,” said Patel.

The Congress leader alleged that the election officials rejected some nominations after BJP leaders made representations that some of theCongress candidates didn’t have toilets at their homes.

The 32 Congress candidates contesting in Palitana municipality of Bhavnagar district moved the Gujarat High Court on Sunday seeking direction to the Election Commission to allow them to submit party mandates as party leaders couldn’t do it within stipulated time of 3 pm Saturday as, they claimed some disgruntled elements of the rival party tore up mandate forms.

Patel said that public at large and Congress as the main opposition party was stunned by the “misuse of state machinery”. “The manner in which the BJP… is harassing, intimidating, cancelling forms (of candidature), and the way they are making efforts to help (BJP) win uncontested in municipal corporations, districts and talukas; and the situation which has been created in Rajkot has stunned people and we, the Opposition. Officers in Rajkot have crossed all limits and the only thing left for them to do now is to wrap a BJP scarf round their necks,” Patel said.

Claiming that the public was with the Opposition party this local body election, Patel said, “The atmosphere here clearly suggests that people are with Congress… and the Congress will win 45 seats of the Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC)…,” he said.

In 2015, the Congress won 34 out of 72 seats in RMC, while the BJP managed to retain power by winning 38 seats.

Hardik’s allegations against government officers and conduct of election officers comes a day after BJP claimed victory in Una and Kadi municipalities after its candidates were declared winners uncontested on majority of seats in these two civic bodies following withdrawal by Congress candidates or those supported by Congress from election race.

However, Patel conceded that his party could have erred in selecting candidates. “The party had to select more than 5,500 candidates and it is possible the party could have erred somewhere… there should be introspection over the issue,” Hardik said. As many as 19 of the 31 Congress candidates who withdrew their candidature in Una municipality were officially fielded by the party and the remaining 12 were allotted its election symbol.

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