Congress invites Hardik Patel to contest Gujarat elections

Cheryl Sanders
October 21, 2017

An angry Ashish Patel of PAAS alleged the saffron party was poaching Hardik's aides with lucrative offers. He said, "Constitutionally speaking, I can't contest the election and I don't need to, in the first place".

Thakor community and OBC Ekta Manch leader Alpesh Thakor on Saturday confirmed that he would be joining the Congress Party, ahead of elections in poll-bound Gujarat.

Thakore, who has emerged as a strong OBC leader along with Hardik Patel and Jignesh Mewani during the last two years, announced his move in New Delhi after an evening meeting with Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, and Rahul Gandhi.

Hardik Patel, the Patidar leader who spearheaded a prolonged agitation for reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for people of his community, was rather tepid in his response to the Congress' invitation.

With Gujarat assembly elections 2017 around the corner, the political activity in the state is at its peak. Congress, which has traditionally relied upon the support of Muslims, sections of OBCs, Dalits and tribals, is hoping that Hardik's revolt would fetch it votes of Patels, BJP's traditional constituent and the party's mainstay, as a bonus. The development came hours after state Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki invited Hardik Patel to join hands with the party. "We have invited the three to join the Congress in this endeavour", Solanki said. "I am not working for the victory of the opposition Congress, but am committed to the legitimate rights of my community", Patel said at a conclave of India TV in Ahmedabad. The proposed front could rattle the BJP as all these three leaders represent three different powerful communities - Patidar, OBC and Dalit.

"Whether I will contest the polls for Congress or join the party will be jointly decided by Dalit organizations and leaders in the state".

"Why you had not given support to us 2 years ago?" he asked.

They joined the BJP after a meeting with Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel and state party chief Jitu Vaghani during its parliamentary board meeting, which was also attended by BJP president Amit Shah.

The party had also urged the Patidar leader Hardik Patel to contest elections promising full support. He further said the upcoming state poll is not just about BJP and Congress, but about the six crores people of Gujarat. "The NCP had backstabbed us in the Rajya Sabha elections but I now hear that the NCP is ready to join hands with us".

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