“Rahul Gandhi Busy With Yatra, No Gujarat Vision”: Hardik Patel To NDTV

Viramgam (Gujarat)/Ahmedabad:

Hardik Patek, the young Patidar community leader who is now with the BJP, today said his former party Congress has no vision for Gujarat. “Rahul Gandhi is busy with his ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ in the South and elsewhere,” he said, pressing on the fact that the Congress top leader’s marquee march isn’t passing through poll-bound Gujarat. 

Contesting his first election, having recently joined the ruling BJP after quitting as Congress state unit Working President, Hardik Patel told NDTV that the Congress “never stops anyone from leaving”, and jibed that the party “does not need a Gujarati”.

He denied allegations that the fear of being jailed over pending cases, including some from the time of the Patidar quota agitation, made him switch sides. “I still have cases on me. If you think joining a party will relieve me from that, then that’s not it.”

On community arithmetic, he stressed that the Patel/Patidar community has “always been the vote bank of the BJP”. He also claimed a family connection with the BJP, saying that his father had helped establish the BJP in the region.

Confident that he’ll win Viramgram — last time, he did not fulfil the minimum age criterion of 25 to fight the elections — he said he’s banking on “the people’s increasing trust in PM Narendra Modi and the BJP”.

“People have anger within them regarding the Congress,” he claimed.

“The Congress doesn’t need people like us who are hardworking,” he said, about himself and others, such as Alpesh Thakor, leaving the party recently.

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Not long ago, Hardik Patel was with Congress. In mid-2022, he exited saying he’d wasted 3 years of his political life with the party. (File)

Meanwhile, the Congress, which has had some rallies by Rahul Gandhi as part of its low-key campaign, says the relatively muted push will capture a “strong undercurrent” of anti-incumbency against the BJP government of 27 consecutive years.

Milind Deora, the party’s observer for the state polls, called it a very localised, personalised and orthodox campaign, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi alluded to.

“I would not agree that we are not putting our best effort. It is a very different type of campaign from the last time,” he told news agency PTI. “In the 2017 polls, there were issues such as the Patidar agitation, demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax, which led to public demonstrations against the government,” he said.

This time, there is a very “strong undercurrent” of anti-incumbency against the state government and the Congress is carrying out a very localised, personalised and orthodox campaign, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi alluded to, Mr Deora said.

“This time the strategy is different; it is not something as visible as last time because of the events preceding that election, but the party is on the ground, exposing the government and taking advantage of anti-incumbency,” he claimed.

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