Gujarat Assembly Elections 2017: Jittery Congress Yet to Decide on Deal with Hardik Patel as Rahul Gandhi Tours State
New Delhi, Nov 1: Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi will be spending the next three days touring poll bound Gujarat. The Congress leader, who has taken upon himself to lift the party in a state that has been under Bharatiya Janata Party’s rule since last two decades, appears to be toying with the idea of luring Hardik Patel.
Rahul Gandhi’s aim to get Hardik Patel support the Congress in the upcoming Gujarat Assembly elections is targeted at the important Patidar votes. However, Hardik Patel has reportedly put forth five major demands for him to support the Congress.
According to reports, the deal between the Congress and Hardik Patel has hit a roadblock even before it could took take shape.
— Congress (@INCIndia) November 1, 2017
Patel, 24, has recently given the Congress an ultimatum to clarify its stand by November 3, when Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to address a public gathering in Surat. However, with the Congress undecided over the issue, Patel, whose support can help the Congress win a substantial share of 12-14 per cent of Patidar votes, Hardik Patel has reportedly extended the deadline to November 7.
‘Not Joining Congress’
Hardik Patel, who heads the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), has reiterated that he is not joining the Congress. Hardik Patel, who is slated to address a mega rally in Morbi today, has rejected reports of him breaking the news of him joining the Congress at the public gathering.
“I am not joining the Congress. The rally in Morbi is for my farmer, businessmen brothers. The present regime has ruined the local ceramic industry in the region. During the rally, I will urge people to come forward and speak against the present dispensation,” he said. (Also Read: Rahul Gandhi Says Pidi is Responsible For His Popularity on Social Media: Twitter Reacts)
“I will campaign against the BJP and tell people why not to vote for the BJP,” Patel said, adding, “There are only two parties in Gujarat – BJP and Congress…I will urge people not to vote for the BJP and people are intelligent enough to take their decision.”
No Rahul Gandhi-Hardik Patel Meeting
The Patidar leader also denied him meeting Rahul Gandhi during his ongoing Gujarat tour.
“Let me make it clear…there is no meeting scheduled with Rahul Gandhi in Surat,” Hardik Patel said.
Last week, media reports claimed that Hardik held a secret meeting with Rahul Gandhi at a hotel in Ahmedabad. The reports, which were based in CCTV footage of the hotel, were refuted by both the Congress and Hardik Patel.
Why Hardik is Important For Congress: Fact File
- Gujarat has 20 percent Patidar voters. In 2012, almost 80 percent of them voted for the BJP helping is win an overwhelming majority.
2. Patidars have been playing a major in helping the BJP form government on Gujarat for the last 19 years.
3. In the present Gujarat Assembly, 44 of the 182 MLAs are from the Patidar community.
4. Muslims and Patidars together have 29 percent voteshare in Gujarat. The remaining 71 percent is shared between OBCs, Harijan, Tribals and Upper Castes.
5. Patidars can swing the election results in as much as 75-80 Assembly constituencies. It is this share of seats that the Congress would be taregetting.
6. In 2012 Gujarat Assembly elections, the BJP garnered 47.9 percent voteshare winning 115 seats. The Congress, which won 61 seats, had 38.9 percent voteshare. During 2014 Lok Sabha elections, 61.1 percent Gujaratis voted in favour of the BJP.