Sensing that popular sentiments of people might upset the prospects of BJP Lok Sabha candidates in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party national president Amit Shah, the ruling party on April 23 resorted to intimidating rival Congress candidates and their supporters.
Congress candidates from Junagadh, Jamnagar and Bhavnagar Lok Sabha seats in the Saurashtra region, considered the stronghold of the Paridar community of which Hardik Patel has emerged as a popular leader, have complained to the Chief Election Officer of BJP rigging, distributing cash and liquor among the voters and even physically attacking party workers.
In Jamnagar, a Patel youth leader Jayanti Patel was abducted by the henchmen of BJP sitting MP Poonam Madam and kept in confinement and told to ensure Patel voters of as many as 32 towns of her constituency cast their votes for her or face dire consequences.
In Junagadh, Congress MLA Bhikhabhai Joshi was attacked by BJP supporters when he tried to stop bogus voting in Samadhiyala town of Mendarda Taluka. In Junagadh town, a large stock of liquor along with Rs 30 lakh cash was found from the vehicle of Raviraj Vyas, the secretary of sitting BJP MP Rajesh Chudasama. The police has registered a case (FIR No. 218/2019) in this connection.
Bhavnagar Congress candidate Manhar Patel has lodged a complaint with the Election Commission about bogus voting done by polling agents and demanded re polling on booth No 2 in Dhufania town, Bhavnagar pointing out that the booth registered as high as 50 per cent polling till 12:30 pm, which was impossible.
In a blatant case of violation of code of conduct, Fatehpura BJP MLA Ramesh Katara was seen in a video circulated widely on social media threatening voters in Dahod district. In the video, Ramesh Katara claims that PM Modi has installed cameras in polling booths and that those voting for Congress can be identified.
The video has also come to the notice of the Election Commission. The district election officer has issued a notice to Katara asking him to give a written reply within 24 hours.