Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday hinted that Patidar quota stir leader Hardik Patel would be the party’s face in Gujarat, ANI reported. The leaders were addressing a joint press conference in Mumbai. The meeting follows the conclusion of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiva Sena’s alliance in Mumbai.
Thackeray said, “Why can’t he [Patel] be Shiv Sena’s face for the polls? But nothing has been decided or discussed yet. This was just our first meeting and everything cannot be discussed in one meeting,” Hindustan Times reported.
Patel said he was a “big fan” of the party’s founder, Bal Thackeray, and praised the Shiva Sena. He has been a harsh critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP-led government.
Patel, who has led agitations across the state demanding reservations for the community since 2015, was arrested for sedition and spent nine months in jail. The 23-year-old Patidar leader was granted bail in a sedition case in July 2016, but the Gujarat High Court had stipulated that he stay outside the state for six months, starting July 17. He stayed in Udaipur till January 17.
The Shiv Sena’s publication Saamna had published editorials praising Patel as a leader of “supplanting Modi as a crowd-puller”. The state is scheduled to conduct elections in 182 constituencies later this year.