Patidar leader Hardik Patel on Sunday said he will join the Congress on March 12. It is not yet clear if he will contest the Lok Sabha elections, whose dates were announced earlier in the day.
“To give shape to my intentions to serve society and country, I have decided to join Indian National Congress on 12th March in presence of Shri Rahul Gandhi and other senior leaders,” Patel tweeted. “I would also like to state that if there is no legal hindrance and party decides to field me in electoral politics, I would abide by the party’s decision. I am taking this step to serve 125 crore citizens of India.”
The Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, which is headed by Patel, had supported the Congress in the 2015 local body polls and the 2017 Gujarat Assembly elections. Patel was the face of a movement in 2015 to demand reservations for his community in government jobs and educational institutions.
In February, Patel announced that he will “definitely” contest the General Elections, but did not mention if he would join a political party or contest as an independent candidate. He turned 25 last year, making him eligible to stand for the Lok Sabha polls.
The Congress had then welcomed Patel’s decision to contest the election, saying he would make a good candidate against the Narendra Modi government. The Bharatiya Janata Party, however, said his candidacy will only benefit their party. “This announcement is a gimmick, which won’t work when the Gujarat voter has made up its mind to make Modi the PM again,” BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya had said.