Wednesday, 22 November, 2017

Gujarat polls: OBC leader Alpesh joins Congress; 2 Hardik aides embrace BJP

Gujarat Assembly poll Congress invites Hardik Patel Jignesh Mevani to join fight against BJP Amit Dave Reuters
Heather Davidson | 23 October, 2017, 04:37

"This agitation was not Hardik Patel's alone".

There was a lot of drama in Gujarat as two aides of Hardik Patel joined the BJP.

Both leaders are vocal critics of the BJP government in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state, where assembly elections are due this winter.

Thakor, accompanied by Congress general secretary in-charge of Gujarat Ashok Gehlot and state party chief Bharatsinh Solanki, met Gandhi at his residence in New Delhi this evening.

"It is time to throw out the BJP in Gujarat".

Soon thereafter, Thakor said Rahul Gandhi would attend a rally organised by him on 23 October where "I will join the Congress party". "However, the Congress would have to first convince how they would meet our demand for reservations to the Patidars, otherwise it is only an election-oriented promise", Patel told IANS. The party also kept the doors open for the Sharad Pawar-led NCP despite the fact that it had ditched the Congress in the Rajya Sabha polls.

The 39-year-old Thakor, who heads the OBC, ST, SC Ekta Manch and founder of the Gujarat Kshatriya-Thakor Sena, announced his intentions after meeting Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi. The minimum age required for a person to contest an Assembly or Lok Sabha election in is 25. Responding to the offer, Hardik said: "Although I believe we must unite against the BJP, this is not a BJP-Congress election". Hardik Patel himself said, "I can not contest polls (He is 24 years old and the necessary age to contest elections is 25) and I will not contest". "Unemployment is a huge problem with lakhs of youngsters without jobs, more than 74,000 farmers are neck deep in debt, illicit liquor flows freely in the state despite prohibition and education and health sectors are in a total mess", Thakor said, adding, "Me, Hardik Patel and Jignesh are all going to join hands with the Congress party to defeat the BJP". The Patidar community leader said that it was time for a BJP-mukt Gujarat.

But, then, the mega-front is up against the personality and charisma of Mr Modi, who continues to remain the biggest draw in the state and an icon of "Gujarati pride".

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