Congress seeks to widen anti-BJP Gujarat front, OBC leader joins party

Patidar leader Hardik Patel

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

"Constitutionally speaking, I can't contest election and I don't need to, in the first place", he said.

Earlier in the day Bharat Solanki, Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee president said, "If Hardik Patel wants to contest the election, then Congress invites him to do so", as per ANI. "We have made a decision to join BJP in the interest of the Patidar community".

"We stand by our proposal of keeping 49% reservations for OBC, SC/ST intact and passing a resolution in the Assembly once in power to provide for 20% reservations to other communities. We want to invite the important factors in Gujarat these days - Hardik, Alpesh and Jignesh - to come and join us in our endeavour to throw out the BJP", said Bharatsinh Solanki, Gujarat Congress chief. "We will send the resolution to BJP-controlled Parliament and impress upon them to pass our resolution", he said, adding that Congress would resort to agitation if Parliament does not approve its proposal.

Firebrand Patidar leader Hardik Patel today rejected Congress' offer to join hands with the party to defeat the ruling BJP in Gujarat which is in power from last two decades. "We have considered the demands of Alpesh and Jignesh and are willing to support their demands", he added.

Varun and Reshma were among the prominent faces of the Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) and remained critical of the ruling BJP during the agitation. Vasava who cast his lot with Sharad Yadav disregarding Nitish Kumar's pressure to opt for the BJP against the Congress in Patel's election is now the national working president of Yadav's faction of the JD-U.

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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.

Chhotu Vasava, the lone JD (U) MLA in Gujarat, had voted for Congress candidate and party chief Sonia Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel in the recent Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat, defying his party leadership. "In return, we will support them on seats in the surrounding areas".

Another youth Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani is reportedly in touch with top Congress leaders.

PAAS leader Dinesh Bhambhania told a Gujarat TV channel, "A couple of ambitious people joining BJP or leaving the Patidar movement won't have any impact on us".

Elections in Gujarat will be held later this year.

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