Congress' Hardik Patel accuses own party months before Gujarat polls


The Congress' Hardik Patel hit out at the Gujarat unit of his own party Wednesday, accusing senior leaders of sidelining him and not fully utilising his skills in the run-up to the assembly election due later this year. Patel, who spearheaded the Patidar community's campaign for OBC reservation, declared the party benefitted from the Patidar agitation to win a few local body elections in 2015 and the 2017 assembly election but then failed to recognise his worth. The Congress won 77 seats in the 182-member Gujarat assembly in 2017, an increase of 16 from the 2012 election.

"But what happened after that? Many in Congress also feel that Hardik was not properly utilised by the party after 2017. It may be because some people in the party would think that I would come in their way after five or 10 years if I am given significance today," Patel claimed.

Interestingly, Patel is also the working president of the Congress' Gujarat unit.

"I hope they do not search for a new Patel for the 2027 election. Why does the party not utilise the people they already have?" he said.

The 'new Patel' swipe was a reference to Patidar leader Naresh Patel, whose delay in induction was also slammed by Hardik Patel. "The kind of talks which are doing rounds regarding the induction of Naresh Patel in Congress is insulting for the entire community. It's been over two months... Why has no decision been taken yet?" he demanded. "Congress benefited because of us (the Patel community) in 2017. Now, as I am seeing on television the party wants to induct Naresh Patel for 2022. I hope they do not search for a new Patel for 2027. Why does the party not utilise people they already have?" he asked.

Hardik Patel's outburst came a day after he hinted at contesting polls now that the Supreme Court has stayed his conviction in a 2015 rioting and arson case.

Gujarat votes in assembly polls in December. Gujarat Congress president Jagdish Thakor has said the party is ready to welcome Naresh Patel, but added, "The ball is now in Naresh Patel's court. We held discussions with him in the past too and urged him to join the party... final decision will be taken by him only." Thakor also said a meeting will be held with Hardik Patel to address issues.

(Except for the headline and the pictorial description, this story has not been edited by THE DEN staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)