Gandhinagar: The Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) on Thursday alleged that the Gujarat chief minister and state BJP unit chief were behind the "morphed" sex clips of its leader Hardik Patel, a charge rejected by the ruling party.
The BJP dismissed the allegation as "baseless" and termed the circulation of the video clips as the "fallout" of a dispute within the PAAS.
"We have learnt that a Surat-based builder who is a BJP supporter and another person are behind these morphed clips. They did it at the behest of the Gujarat chief minister (Vijay Rupani) and the state BJP unit president Jitu Vaghani to tarnish Hardik's image ahead of the polls to save the BJP," PAAS convener Dinesh Bambhania alleged at a news conference.
This was done as part of a "Rs 40 crore deal", he alleged, but did not elaborate.
Bambhania, a close aide of Hardik, further alleged 52 more such "morphed" videos were prepared outside India by the two Surat-based persons on the directions of the BJP.
At least three 'intimate' videos purportedly of Hardik are currently reported to be in circulation. Hardik had attacked the BJP after the first clip surfaced.
"As the BJP is worried about Hardik's rising popularity, they have planned to put him behind bars ahead of the polls to stop further damage to the party," Bambhania alleged.
"Our sources have told us that 52 such morphed clips are still there, out of which, 22 clips are of Hardik while remaining clips are of other PAAS leaders," he said.
Bambhania said PAAS will initiate legal action in the coming days after consulting lawyers and will make the "evidences" public to prove BJP's "involvement".
Refuting the charges against the BJP leaders, Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said there is a "strong possibility" that the sex clips were prepared by a dissident PAAS worker out of a grudge or a dispute.
"As PAAS has claimed that 52 more CDs are still there, it shows that they are aware that their own workers might have prepared them. It is an internal matter of the PAAS. BJP leaders have nothing to do with it. Instead of giving excuses, PAAS leaders need to come out clean and give proofs," Patel told reporters.
It is "very much likely" that one of the two persons the PAAS is claiming to be behind the videos was associated with the Patidar body before parting ways "over distribution of funds, allegedly given by the Gujarat Congress to PAAS for fanning protests," he said.
"All the allegations against our CM and state party chief are baseless. It is very much possible that the dispute within the PAAS regarding the funds led to this shameful episode. The BJP is nowhere in the picture," Patel added.
Hardik is posing a challenge to the ruling BJP as he holds sway over a chunk of Patidars, considered as loyal voters of the saffron party.
The Congress has been trying to wean away Patidars ahead of polls for caste consolidation. Though Hardik has not yet opened his cards, he has put the commitment to reservation for Patidars as a pre-condition to support the Congress.