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Tie-up or not? Mystery deepens as Hardik denies meeting Rahul at Ahmedabad hotel

The grand old party offered tickets to three youth leaders, but Hardik Patel said he has no intention of contesting the polls. Sources say he is wary of siding with the Congress because it would provide the BJP with an opportunity to counter his influence on the politically significant community.

india Updated: Oct 23, 2017 20:48 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Ahmedabad
Hardik Patel,Rahul Gandhi,Patidar
Patidar leader Hardik Patel said interacting with Congress president Rahul Gandhi this time would be difficult because he was busy with rallies in north Gujarat. (HT File)

Firebrand Patidar leader Hardik Patel has rejected reports that he met Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi at an Ahmedabad hotel on Monday.

Local television channels ran CCTV footage that showed Patel entering the hotel’s premises late on Sunday night, and emerging around 4 pm the next day. Gandhi arrived at the same establishment around 1 pm on Monday. However, there was no visual evidence of the two meeting up, and HT was unable to independently verify the authenticity of the CCTV footage.

The Congress had invited three young community representatives – OBC leader Alpesh Thakor, Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani and Patel – for talks with Gandhi. While Thakor officially joined the Congress at a rally held in Gandhinagar, Mewani gave the event a miss.

Patel refused to comment on speculations about his meeting with the Congress vice-president. “I am busy right now. I will talk to you later,” he told HT. Dinesh Bambania, a close aide, later said the two did not meet.

Congress state president Bharatsinh Solanki earlier told mediapersons that Gandhi’s meeting with Patel had been postponed, and the two would interact during his next visit through November 1, 2 and 3. The 24-year-old Patidar leader, in turn, said interacting with Gandhi this time would be difficult because he was busy with rallies in north Gujarat.

The grand old party offered tickets to all the three youth leaders, but Patel said he has no intention of contesting the polls. Sources say he is wary of siding with the Congress because it would provide the BJP with an opportunity to counter his influence on the politically significant community.

Though Patidars are traditional supporters of the BJP, Patel’s rallies against the Gujarat government have so far received a good response from community members.

First Published: Oct 23, 2017 20:42 IST