AHMEDABAD: Hardik Patel aide Narendra Patel dramatically spread out the money allegedly received as a ‘bribe’ to join the BJP at a late night press conference. He claimed that he was offered Rs one crore by the ruling dispensation through former Hardik Patel aide Varun Patel, with Rs 10 lakhs paid as the first instalment. And the remaining to be paid the next day.

There was immediate impact on the Patidar community, as Patel leader from Surat Nikhil Sawani who had joined the BJP with 150 supporters in September quit the ruling party. "Heard about Rs. 1 crore offer by BJP to Narendra Patel, I'm upset. I am leaving BJP today,” Sawani said and has now sought an appointment with Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi.

The BJP of course, has declared all this to be a “conspiracy” hatched by the Congress party.

He has sought an appointment with Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, who is scheduled today to meet Jignesh Mevani, who has taken on the BJP government over attacks on Dalits. Sawani went on to congratulate Narendra Patel before the media saying, "Narendra Patel comes from a small family but still he didn't choose Rs. 1 crore.” He of course, denied receiving any money from the BJP.

The Patidar community support for the BJP has been dented---to what extent will of course be known only during the Assembly elections in the state----by young leader Hardik Patel who is drawing enormous crowds across the state. The BJP is desperate to break his hold, working to wean away individual aides with him. Only yesterday Reshma Patel, a leader who had represented Hardik Patel and spoken vociferously against the BJP through the Una yatra undertaken by Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, had joined the BJP.

Given the fact that Hardik Patel has not responded to BJP overtures, despite several meetings, the strategy is clearly to ‘win’ over those around him, more so the prominent persons. This disclosure by Narendra Patel has come as a major blow to the BJP, as has the decision by Sawani to leave the party within the month. As despite the party denials, this disclosure places the use of money power, even if allegedly so,right in the public domain. And this as a Congress leader said, “will check others from joining the BJP as they will be charged with taking money and stand in danger of losing their credibility.”

Hardik Patel is being wooed by the Congress party as well but has made it clear that he will not join. But will work to defeat the BJP. The Congress state president has announced the party’s commitment to bringing in reservation for the Patidar community but clearly the young leader has decided to hold his independent horses, and not join the Opposition party either. His campaign is a strong indictment of the BJP, and his stamina impressive in that the days pack an unending string of public meetings. The support instead of reducing is increasing, according to locals here, with the Patidars visibly angry with the BJP.

Hardik Patel has been very dismissive of those who have left his party to join the BJP referring to them as ‘centipedes.’ His resilience seems to have paid off now with his senior aide’s disclosures that the Congress is making more of than the Patidar leader whose Facebook posts are measured and definitely not strident.