Cong fields Sanjiv Bhatt’s wife against Modi

Shweta Bhatt

IN A surprise move, the Congress Friday fielded the wife of suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt as its candidate against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Given Bhatt's long-running battle with Modi, whom he has accused of complicity in the 2002 riots, the BJP said the move "exposed" the Congress as the "architect" of the "hate campaign" in the state.

The Congress said it was just "doing our duty". Party spokesperson Manish Doshi said Shweta Bhatt's family was being harassed by Modi, and she wanted to give the CM a democratic fight. "So we provided a platform to her," he said.

"Whoever has faith in democracy, let them support me because this is the right time to safeguard Gujarat from anti-democratic forces," Shweta said. "This is the time to safeguard India."

She added that while her initial motivation was the harassment of her family, "later I discovered there were many people who had been, like me, subjected to harassment". Modi won the Maninagar seat by 75,000 votes in 2007.

She also rejected that the Congress ticket to her showed her husband's links to the party. "I had already made up my mind to contest elections against Modi," she said.

He accompanied Shweta on Friday as she went to the Sabarmati Ashram before proceeding to file her nomination papers. Asked what she would do for Maninagar, Shweta said: "Frankly speaking, I have no false promises to make."

Attacking the Congress, the BJP said in Delhi: "The Congress is exposed thoroughly. Whatever Bhatt did in the last 10 years, the architect, scriptwriters and directors were the Congress."

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