Much Ado About CCTV Footage: Did Hardik Patel Meet Rahul Gandhi?
While the CCTV footage has sparked a political storm in Gujarat, Hardik Patel has denied meeting Rahul Gandhi.
The political atmosphere in poll-bound Gujarat has been heating up ever since rumours about Patidar agitation spearhead Harkik Patel meeting Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi began making the rounds.
Scenes from leaked CCTV footage purportedly showing Hardik meeting Rahul in a five-star-hotel were splashed all over local Gujarati TV channels on Tuesday, 24 October. The clips were picked up by almost all mainstream news channels a day later.
The five CCTV clips show Hardik entering The Ummed in Ahmedabad, the hotel where both Rahul and AICC member in-charge of Gujarat, Ashok Gehlot, were staying.
In the footage, Hardik can be seen entering the hotel late on Sunday (22 October) night and exiting on Monday. In one of the videos, he can be seen holding a handkerchief inside a car.
Hardik had earlier claimed that he wouldn’t be meeting Gandhi on Monday, 23 October, since he was scheduled to attend a function in Mandal town.
After the CCTV footage surfaced, Hardik denied meeting Rahul, adding that he only met some Congress leaders. He said he would file a case against the hotel for “leaking the CCTV footage.”
Hardik Denies Meeting Rahul
"I have not met Rahul Gandhi, but I met Ashok Gehlot and Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki to discuss the issues affecting the Patidar community, including OBC quota," The Times of India quoted Hardik as saying. “When I meet Rahul Gandhi, I will let the entire country know. Had I met Rahul, I would have met him in public, which would give me more mileage. Why should I meet Rahul secretly?” he asked.
"The Congress leaders had invited me to meet them but I was at a rally in Mahisagar district. I reached very late, may be 3 am, and met Ashok Gehlot. I presented the demands of the Patidars and the issues we are concerned about," he said said. "It had got very late, so I put up at the hotel and left in the morning.”
It is absolutely wrong that I met Rahul Gandhi. I will meet 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 ModiHardik Patel
The Times of India, however, quoted sources as saying that Gandhi did meet Patel, along with Nikhil Sawani, the PAAS co-convener who quit the BJP on Monday.
Gujarat is the Surveillance Republic of India: Hardik
Speaking to the Ahmedabad Mirror, Hardik alleged that Gujarat was the “Surveillance Republic of India”. “It is scary that the government wants to monitor what we eat, what we wear, whom we meet and where we go. Can nobody have a personal life any longer,” he asked on Wednesday, 25 October.
Hardik said that he would soon meet Rahul, adding that he was making an announcement in the matter, “in case the Gujarat government wants to begin monitoring” him further. “I went to the hotel because I wanted clarity before I meet Rahul Gandhi. I sought that clarity from Ashok Gehlot. The government leaked my visit, claiming I had struck a deal with the Congress,” he told Ahmedabad Mirror.
This is India not North Korea. I have a right to fight for a cause. I have a right to meet people I want. It is sad that instead of monitoring criminal activities and law and order, Gujarat government is wasting its police to spy on me.Hardik Patel to Ahmedabad Mirror
‘I Condemn the Surveillance Being Done By BJP’: Ashok Gehlot on CCTV Footage
Ashok Gehlot on Monday, 23 October, took to Twitter to accuse the Gujarat government of spying. "I condemn all the surveillance being done on the BJP's orders," Gehlot said in a series of tweets. “When they met BJP leaders, then their offices were not checked. Why it is being done now,” he asked.
Meanwhile, the staff of The Ummed hotel said they shared the CCTV footage with the police upon being asked for it.
Vikram Singh Shekhawat, chief security officer of the hotel, told The Indian Express that “no room was searched by police”.
He did say however, that the police asked for the CCTV footage and, after consulting top management, the footage was provided to them for security reasons.
The Congress, which has been out of power in Gujarat for 22 years now, has been seen wooing Hardik Patel in a bid to garner the support of the Patels, Dalits and OBCs. These political machinations have lent the purported Hardik-Rahul meeting an angle of intrigue.
TV channels have left no stone unturned in circling shadowy figures outside the room, claiming that Hardik has been busted. We, however, feel that this entire episode seems to be a lot of smoke, without any fire.
(This story has been updated to reflect Hardik Patel’s comments.)
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