Ashok Gehlot: IB searched hotel where I met Hardik, Jignesh
Senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot alleged that local Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials searched and acquired the CCTV footage of the Ahmedabad hotel room where he met with Patidar leader Hardik Patel and Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani. Gehlot tweeted "Why CCTV footage was taken by IB and police from the hotel? Is the right to privacy, sole proprietorship of Jay Amit Shah?" Here's more!
How did the events unfold?
Former Rajasthan CM Gehlot met Patel, Mevani and some reports suggest OBC activist Alpesh Thakor separately at Ahmedabad's Ummed Hotel urging them to form a coalition with the Congress. Thakor has already joined Congress. Later, CCTV grabs were simultaneously telecast by all Gujarati channels. Gehlot said the hotel staff told him that IB officials had taken the footage and provided it to news channels.
What is Ashok Gehlot saying?
In a series of tweets, AICC general secretary in-charge of Gujarat Gehlot asked 'What is happening in Gandhiji's Gujarat?' He condemned BJP's surveillance and asked why it was necessary. He questioned the PM that when BJP leaders met the trio, their room were not checked, so why was it done in this case. He asked whether Alpesh, Hardik and Jignesh are "absconders" or "criminals."
Ummed Hotel does not deny providing the footage
Ummed Hotel didn't deny providing the footage. Vikram Shekhawat, the hotel's chief security officer said "no room was searched by police but there were many police and IB officials deployed in the hotel throughout the day due to VVIP visits. The police did ask for CCTV footage and, after consulting our top management, we provided it to them. This was all for security reasons."
Meanwhile, despite reports, Hardik denies meeting Rahul
Meanwhile, Hardik denied meeting Rahul, despite some reports suggesting a secret meeting between the two, but said he met Gehlot to discuss Patidars' demands. He said "I will meet (Rahul) when he comes next. And if I want to meet him, I don't have to do so secretly. I am not meeting a terrorist, or meeting Nawaz Sharif at midnight like Narendra Modi did."
Why is the Congress aligning with the three community leaders?
Until now, Congress was dependent on defector Shankarsinh Vaghela for votes in Gujarat. However, after his exit and Ahmed Patel's close shave during RS elections, Congress has been accommodative of Mevani, Patel and Thakor. Though Mevani and Patel may not have joined Congress, they have reached a tacit understanding that in return for support during campaigning, they will get a say in seat distribution.
Is the Modi-Shah duo feeling the heat?
Is the Modi-Shah duo apprehensive about this emerging alliance? Modi has been visiting Gujarat every week doling out sops and spewing rhetoric against Gandhi family to continue BJP's dominance over Gujarat. They have also enlisted UP CM Yogi Adityanath, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan for campaigning. The BJP tactics of allegedly snooping on Congress might signal its nervousness.
Does Congress really stand a chance?
Though Gujarat is a two-party state, Congress has failed to narrow the vote-share gap of 8-10% with BJP since two decades. They don't have a credible face to showcase in Gujarat, where Modi is BJP's "Brahmastra." Despite the anger, Gujarat's voters will probably vote for BJP as it is their "default mode." However, Congress has to translate this anger to votes in its favor.