While the eyes were on the meeting between Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi and leading Patidar leader Hardik Patel while the former was in Gujarat. However, it turned out later that the two never met. As the media scanned for reasons as to why the meeting did not take place. A row later broke out when CCTV footage of Hardik Patel walking out of the hotel where Rahul Gandhi was staying during his Ahmedabad stay. Congress leader and former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot went on to accuse Gujarat police and intelligence agencies of spying and taking away CCTV footage from the hotel Ummed to track the party’s activities ahead of elections expected by December.
In response, Gujarat’s Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said that security agencies were only following protocol for the visit of a “VVIP” like Rahul Gandhi. “VVIP security is responsibility of security agencies… to ensure sanitised venues, checking by security agencies is done. That’s as per security protocol. Rahul Gandhi’s security is the responsibility of security agencies. There is no role of state agencies,” Mr Patel told reporters. Hardik Patel is seen in the footage entering the hotel around 2 am and leaving after Rahul Gandhi’s check-in. In one grab, he is inside a car, holding a handkerchief to cover his face.
The 24-year-old, who has been stressing that his fight against Gujarat’s ruling BJP does not mean he is joining the opposition, strongly denied meeting Rahul Gandhi but admitted at a public meeting that he had met Mr Gehlot, the Congress leader in charge of Gujarat, at the hotel.
“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,” Hardik Patel said, claiming that since it was late, he stayed overnight and left in the morning.
Mr Gehlot alleges that the Gujarat police and intelligence officials took away the hotel CCTV footage on the orders of the BJP.