Friday, 17 November, 2017

Congress seeks to widen anti-BJP Gujarat front, OBC leader joins party

Patidar community leader Hardik Patel. Courtesy ANI news Patidar community leader Hardik Patel. Courtesy ANI news
Sammy Stanley | 21 October, 2017, 23:25

An angry Ashish Patel of PAAS alleged the saffron party was poaching Hardik's aides with lucrative offers. I can not contest elections myself because of constitutional provisions, nor do I want.

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.

The Congress' attempt to set up a mega anti-BJP front in Gujarat began to take shape with the influential Patidar community leader Hardik Patel assuring his support to the proposed front saying - "We are anti-BJP, we will back Congress to defeat BJP". The minimum age required for a person to contest an Assembly or Lok Sabha election in is 25.

"We stand by our proposal of keeping 49% reservations for OBC, SC/ST intact and passing a resolution in the Assembly once in power to provide for 20% reservations to other communities".

The announcement came hours after the Congress, which has been out of power in Gujarat for over two decades now, invited Patidar quota stir spearhead Hardik Patel, OBC leader Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani, a protagonist of resurgent Dalit politics in the key western state, to join the party.

Soon thereafter, Thakor said Rahul Gandhi would attend a rally organised by him on October 23 where "I will join the Congress party". "Our fight is for the rights of farmers, for the society... not to contest elections", he said.

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"I am very happy that Mr Thakor had a meeting with our Vice President and agreed to join the Congress party".

Varun and Reshma were among the prominent faces of the Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) and remained critical of the ruling BJP during the agitation. "I and Varun are of the opinion that the BJP would definitely fulfil our demands", she said. "In return, we will support them on seats in the surrounding areas". The recently concluded Rajya Sabha elections which saw Congress leader Ahmed Patel scrape through with the support of the lone JD-U legislator Chottubhai Vasava has led to an opposition re-think in the strategy to combat the ruling BJP in the state.

Vasava had said after the Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat in August this year that he had made a decision to vote for the Congress candidate as he was "unhappy" with the ruling party's works for the poor and tribal population that he represents.

"Similarly, we also invite Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani to join hands with the Congress".

Elections in Gujarat will be held later this year.

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