Patidar movement leader Hardik Patel’s key aides joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in poll-bound Gujarat on Sunday, PTI reported. The Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti has been protesting against the ruling BJP-led government with demands that the community be given reservations for government jobs.
Reshma and Varun Patel accused the community leader of becoming a “Congress agent”, PTI reported. “Our fight was to get our community justice, not to help the Congress win,” Reshma Patel told ANI. “The BJP has accepted three of our demands.”
The move gains significance as the Congress and the BJP have been trying to gain the support of the community ahead of the upcoming Assembly election. On Saturday, the Congress had invited Hardik Patel to join forces against the Bharatiya Janata Party in the upcoming Assembly election.
“A caterpillar will keep running even if it breaks its legs,” Hardik Patel said on Twitter in an apparent reference to their move. “I have public support. My fight will continue as long as I have their support.”
The two Patidar leaders joined the saffron party after a meeting with Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel and state party chief Jitu Vaghani during its parliamentary board meeting. “The Congress is only trying to use the Patels as a vote bank. We do not want to be part of such malicious conspiracy,” PTI quoted Reshma Patel as saying.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to make his second visit to the poll-bound state in a span of a week. The Congress had criticised the Election Commission’s decision to not announce the dates for the Gujarat poll along with its announcement of the Himachal Pradesh election schedule. The Opposition party alleged that the commission is delaying announcing the dates so that the BJP can offer more schemes to the people in the state.
The Model Code of Conduct comes into effect as soon as voting dates are announced, banning politicians from announcing freebies until elections are over.
The commission, however, had denied the allegations.