Published: Sat, October 21, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

OBC leader Alpesh to join Congress, two Hardik aides embrace BJP

OBC leader Alpesh to join Congress, two Hardik aides embrace BJP

"We respect as well as endorse the cause for which Hardik Patel is fighting".

Jignesh Mewani, on the other hand, said, "I am determined to defeat the BJP not only in Gujarat in December 2017 but also in the Lok Sabha elections in 2019".

Thakor, accompanied by Congress general secretary incharge of Gujarat Ashok Gehlot and state party chief Bharatsinh Solanki, met Gandhi at his residence in New Delhi this evening. "I have said earlier also that the Congress would have to first convince us how they would meet our demand for reservations to the Patidars, otherwise it is only an election-oriented promise", Patel told IANS.

You have to be at least 25 to contest an election to Parliament or the state assemblies in India.

Soon after, Varun Patel and Reshma Patel, Patidar leaders closely associated with the PAAS movement, joined the BJP, profusely praising the ruling party which they suddenly found to have considered all their demands.

In a pincer move, the Congress sought to cut a swathe through the ruling party vote bank by inviting youth leaders Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mevani and Alpesh Thakore alongside political configurations like the Aam Admi Party (AAP), JDU and NCP to form a broad political front against the BJP in Gujarat.

Highly placed sources said that Mevani and Thakore have left for Delhi along with Solanki for a meeting with the Congress high command and the possibility of their meeting Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi can not be ruled out. Solanki even promised to give an additional 20 per cent reservation to economically backward classes in the state if the Congress is voted to power in the upcoming assembly polls. "We want our right of the quota and we will win this battle of justice". The Congress has given both Mr Patel and Mr Mevani an open invitation to join the party.

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Patel had shot into the spotlight after leading the Patidar agitation in Gujarat.

"Although I believe we must unite against the BJP, this isn't a BJP-Congress election.

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

The Congress has also announced truck with the lone JD (U) legislator, Chhotubhai Vasava of the Sharad Yadav camp, who had helped the Congress in the Rajya Sabha polls by voting for Ahmed Patel.

Vasava had said after the Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat in August this year that he had chose 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.

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

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