As the Gujarat polls draw close, it looks like Hardik Patel will continue to make news, at least for a while. After an alleged sex clip of the Patidar quota agitation leader went viral on social media, four more "intimate" clips have emerged online that show him and his aides consuming liquor in the company of a woman.
Since the clips have gone viral, Hardik has blamed the BJP of trying to tarnish his image before the polls. "They (BJP) love to peep into the personal lives of others. As their 22-year-old 'vikas' (development agenda) stands exposed, they are trying to expose a 23-year-old boy. I will consult my lawyers and file a complaint soon against perpetrators of this sex CD," Hardik told the Times of India.
Calling it "character assassination," the Patidar quota agitation leader said that BJP is going to gain nothing from these videos and they will have no effect on the agitation or its results.
While the clips kicked up quite a frenzy on social media, their authenticity is yet to be verified and the source of these videos is also not known.
Hardik may have said that the clips were doctored, but many have spoken up about him and how this may be the right time for him to quit, now that everyone knows the truth about him. "Hardik is clearly seen in the sex tape. He should confess his mistakes and leave the quota stir. The community will not tolerate such abhorrent acts," Ketan Patel, a former aide who has now approver against him in a sedition case, told the daily.
"Hardik will no longer be welcome to stay in Patidar homes. Women will stay away from his rallies. Hardik's claims that he has been framed by BJP will not cut any ice with the community," another former aide Chirag Patel added.
Hardik's first video emerged on social media on Monday, after which Ashwin Patel, who began the Patidar agitation in 2012, said that the videos weren't really surprising and that Hardik is known to have exploited several women.
"I separated from Hardik as he exploited several girls, including a Patidar one. Hardik's aides from Surat, Morbi and Rajkot also exploited girls," Ashwin had said.
Amid the allegations, BJP has said that it has nothing to do with these clips and Mansukh Mandaviya, Union MoS for road, transport and highways, said that instead of blaming BJP, Hardik should have filed a formal complaint with the police.
The Congress, in turn, has supported Hardik and slammed BJP for the videos. "The BJP has stooped to a low level of politics and such leaks infringe upon a citizen's fundamental right to privacy," Congress spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil said.
Both BJP and Congress have been trying to garner Patel's support for a while now. He had earlier asked the Congress to make its point clear when it came to reservation for the Patidar community and had said that he was ready to support the party if the community's demands regarding reservation in education and jobs were fulfilled.
He later told NDTV that he had asked the members of his community to vote the BJP out of power in Gujarat, making it evident that he would not support the BJP.