BJP in damage control mode as Gujarat returns to normal

Our Bureau Ahmedabad | Updated on January 23, 2018

The aftermath As calm returns to Gujarat, public transport, markets and educational institutes have started functioning again. The Army kept vigil in sensitive areas

Hardik Patel   -  PTI

Hardik Patel plans meetings with Gurjars from Rajasthan, Patidar leaders from UP

The ongoing Patidar reservation agitation has forced the government and the ruling party, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), into a huddle with senior national leader Dinesh Sharma, who held a meeting with party legislators along with chief minister Anandiben Patel and State party chief RC Faldu, in Gandhinagar on Friday.

The in-charge for Gujarat, Dinesh Sharma discussed the political fallout of the Patidar agitation, which resulted in violence with 11 unconfirmed deaths in two days.

Poll preparation

According to party insiders, the agenda for the meeting was to plan damage control ahead of local body polls in the State in October. Thirty seven of BJP’s 117 legislators are in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly. Six of the 26 Parliamentary constituencies are represented by Patel leaders. Also, chief minister Anandiben Patel has seven Patels in her ministry.

Receiving end

Interestingly, these BJP leaders and ministers were at the receiving end of the angry Patidar mob.

The leader of the agitation, Hardik Patel, the convenor of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) is planning to head to New Delhi on Friday, where he will plan the next course of action. Sources close to him informed that he is likely to meet Gurjars from Rajasthan, and Patidar leaders from Uttar Pradesh among others.

Meanwhile, calm prevailed across the State on Friday after widespread violencebegan on Tuesday night. No untoward incident of violence was reported. Curfew was lifted from most parts of Gujarat including tense areas of Ahmedabad.

Public transport, markets and educational institutes started functioning again. However, mobile internet and SMS services continued to be suspended for the third day in a row. The Army staged flag march in sensitive areas.

Plan of action

On the other hand, the Gujarat High Court on Friday pulled up the State government for police action on residents and damage to private property. The two-judge bench of acting chief justice Jayant Patel and justice NV Anjaria directed the State to submit a report about the plan of action for maintaining law and order.

“Restoration of peace (in Gujarat) should be top priority. However, on the aspects of action taken on errand police officers, we find that it can wait for some time but need to emphasis that the State must remind the police about their responsibilities,” the High Court said on Friday.

Police brutality?

Taking note of allegations of police brutality on residents, the court said, “What about the police atrocities and what actions you intend to take against the errand officers? Women were also beaten by male officers. Police should not transgress the law.

“We are conscious of the fact that police should not have done this. Prime concern of the State is peace. No shielding (of police personnel) should be there,” said the High court in direction to the government.

The court has scheduled the next hearing for September 3. Earlier on Friday, the High Court asked the home secretary to remain present in the court to clarify the State’s actions ahead of the festival of Rakshabandhan on Saturday. Following the court’s direction, home secretary PK Taneja appeared and filed the State government’s reply detailing the actions being taken to restore peace in the State.

Published on August 28, 2015

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