Congress eyes anti-BJP front in Gujarat, invites Hardik, Alpesh, Jignesh Mewani
The three have led powerful campaigns against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government for their communitiesassembly elections Updated: Oct 21, 2017 21:09 IST
The Gujarat Congress reached out on Saturday to Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakore and Jignesh Mewani, activist leaders who could bring crucial support ahead of the state elections due in a few months.
Patel, Thakore and Mewani have led powerful campaigns against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government for their communities.
“If Hardik Patel wants to contest elections in future, the Congress is ready to give him ticket. Jignesh Mewani is leading an agitation for the rights of Dalits and Alpesh Thakore is fighting issues like corruption and alcohol addiction. The Congress invites them to join hands with us,” said Gujarat Pradesh Congress committee president Bharatsinh Solanki at a press conference.
Patel, 24, who has been at the forefront of an agitation for reservation benefits in college admission and government jobs for his otherwise politically influential Patidar community, is yet to reach the age in which he is allowed to contest election.
While Patel has said he has no intention of contesting elections, Mewani – who emerged as a Dalit leader in the wake of the Una flogging incident – told HT that his “movement” has a political “perspective” but he would respond to the Congress invitation after consulting community members and organisations.
Thakore, who has been leading OBC, ST and ST Ekta Manch, was not available for comment.
“I do not intend to contest elections. We want our right (OBC status) and we will continue to fight for the same,” said Patel.
The BJP, which has announced a Non-Reserved Category Educational and Economic Development Board and Commission to placate the agitators, has been portraying Patel as a “Congress agent”.
“I am against the RSS and BJP ideology, which is out to wipe out democracy from India. My movement is social as well as political. But I will respond to the Congress after consulting my community,” Mewani told HT.
Solanki also said that AAP leaders like Kanu Kalsaria, a former BJP MLA from Mahuva, and others are in touch with Congress.
“Chhotu Vasava (JD-U MLA) had supported Congress in the Rajya Sabha election. We invite him to to join us. Also, if the NCP, which did not support us in the RS elections, wants the Congress to come to power, we are ready to think for an alliance,” Solanki added.
Vasava, who is close to rebel JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, had mobilised voters in the tribal belt ahead of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s Navsarjan Yatra in central Gujarat earlier this month.
The two MLAs of NCP, which so far has contested assembly elections in the state in alliance with the Congress, had voted for the BJP in the August RS elections. The party has announced to contest from a “maximum number” of seats this time around.
First Published: Oct 21, 2017 15:00 IST