The Congress on Saturday invited Patidar movement leader Hardik Patel to join hands to fight against the Bharatiya Janata Party in the upcoming Assembly election in Gujarat. Apart from Patel, the Congress also urged Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani and Alpesh Thakor, the founder of the OSS (Other Backward Classes, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe) Ekta Manch and Thakor Kshatriya Sena, to join them to beat the ruling party in Gujarat.
“We respect as well as endorse the cause for which Hardik Patel is fighting,” Gujarat Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki told reporters. “I appeal to Hardik to support the Congress during the polls. We are also ready to give him a ticket if he wants to fight elections in the future.”
Later on Saturday, Thakor announced that he will formally join the Congress on Monday when party Vice President Rahul Gandhi will visit Ahmedabad.
However, Patel left the Congress guessing whether he would join hands with the party. “Constitutionally speaking, I can not contest the election and I don’t need to,” Patel told ANI. “Although, I believe we must unite against the BJP, this is not a BJP-Congress election. This is an election of six crore people of Gujarat.”
He added that the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti wanted the Congress to clarify whether they will live up to their promise of giving 20% reservation to the Patel community.
Solanki also invited Chhotu Vasava, who helped the Congress during the Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat in August, to support the party. Vasava was the only Janata Dal (United) leader from Gujarat to have voted for Congress candidate Ahmed Patel in the election to the Upper House. Solanki also claimed that some Aam Aadmi Party leaders were in touch with the Congress and may join the party soon, PTI reported.