Ahmedabad: Patidar quota leader Hardik Patel will not get his electoral debut in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as the Gujarat High Court on Tuesday rejected his petition seeking a stay of his conviction in a 2015 rioting case in the state.
Patel, who had joined the Congress recently, had moved the high court on March 8 and challenged his conviction in a 2015 rioting case in Mehsana district during the Patidar quota agitation. A Visnagar sessions court sentenced him to two years’ imprisonment and he cannot contest elections as per provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
Taking to twitter after the court order, Patel asked why a 25-year-old Congress workers was being stopped from contesting polls. He said there were several BJP leaders, too, who had cases as well as convictions against them, but the “law exists only for him”.
He said his only fault was that he did not bend before the BJP. “This is the result of fighting the establishment,” he wrote. He said he would not be cowed down by the ruling and would campaign for the Congress not just in Gujarat, but the entire nation.
Patel had earlier said that he would move the Supreme Court if the high court fails to pass a verdict.
But he would face a race against time to get a stay on the conviction in the top court too, as the last date of filing nominations in Gujarat is April 4. The state will go to polls on April 23.
The 25-year-old had voiced his frustrations that the hearing in the high court was also marred by delays. Four days before joining the Congress on March 12, Patel had requested the high court to stay his conviction, claiming that he has a chance of winning.
The state government had twice sought time from the court to produce material opposing the application, which was granted by the court.
The government affidavit, opposing the stay, had listed 24 FIRs against Patel in the last four years. The government claimed that his repeated offences were a clear breach of the bail conditions set by the high court, which had released him on cases related to sedition.
Patel has accused the state government for deliberately adjourning the case in order to stop him from fighting the polls.