Hardik Patel signals support to Congress in Gujarat

After first serving an ultimatum to concede the demand for Reservation for Patidars, the young leader on Thursday confirmed his support to the Congress

Photo by Ravi Choudhary/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Ravi Choudhary/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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NH Political Bureau

In a major boost to the Congress in Gujarat, Patidar leader Hardik Patel on Thursday told NDTV that he would support the Congress in the ensuing assembly election scheduled in December. “Congress is openly supporting the Patidars and when we have given a call for ousting the BJP from power, people know for whom they would vote,” he told the channel.

Hardik Patel and Jignesh Mevani are unlikely to join the Congress. But while the ultimatum served by Patel to the Congress to make its stand on Reservation clear has been shifted to November 7, there are indications that both the leaders are veering to the Congress as a natural ally.

Mevani held a press conference on Thursday and lamented the state government’s inaction over atrocities on Dalits. Even five years later, he pointed out, the state government is yet to release the report on the police firing on Dalits at Thangadh. Nor has the state government honoured its commitments made after lynching of Dalits at Una. He had submitted a 17-point charter of demands to the Congress, he confirmed and reiterated that there was no question of helping the BJP in the election.

Yesterday’s meeting of NCP leader Praful Patel with Hardik Patel had given rise to speculation that BJP had succeeded in weaning Hardik away from the Congress. But Hardik downplayed the meeting by calling it a courtesy call. it seems neither Hardik nor Mevani can afford to dilute their opposition to the BJP. Having any truck with NCP may actually cost them public support, say observers.

Earlier in the day the young 24 year old leader tweeted that Gujarat is experiencing tremors of a revolution. “Kranti ( Revolution) is here”, he tweeted.

Earlier Hardik Patel had served an ultimatum that Congress must announce its commitment to reservation for Patidars in jobs by November 3 if it wanted the support of Patidars in the election. But while the Congress is yet to give such a commitment, the young leader risked criticism of a ‘sell-out’ to announce his support for the Congress.

Referring to several other Patidar outfits which have denounced him for selling out to the Congress, Patel declared that they had been propped up by the BJP. In one of his tweets, he asked whether millions of people should be made to suffer to keep just two people happy.

In another tweet, he said that only Adani and the chief minister were happy in the state. Tweeting a photograph of him addressing a massive crowd on Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary, he tweeted that he was indeed an ‘agent’, an agent of the vast multitude of people in Gujarat.

While Alpesh Thakore, the OBC leader, has already joined the Congress, Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani too indicated his willingness to meet Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi or other senior leaders and extend his support.

Meanwhile Congress VP Rahul Gandhi has been receiving enthusiastic crowds in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home turf.

With inputs from RK Misra

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