Ahmedabad: Sensing an opportunity in firebrand Patidar leader and Gujarat Congress working president Hardik Patel’s Thursday’s outburst against his party, the Aam Aadmi Party on Friday held out an olive branch to him and welcomed him to join the AAP.
Gujarat AAP president Gopal Italia told a section of the media, “Instead of complaining, he should contribute here.” He went on to say, "If Hardik Patel is not comfortable in Congress, he should join a like-minded party like AAP. Instead of complaining to Congress and wasting his time, he should contribute here. A party like Congress would not have a place for dedicated people like him."
Hardik Patel, who on Thursday told mediapersons that he was being treated in the Congress like a newly married groom forced to undergo vasectomy, claimed that there was no question of his quitting the Congress. “I am 100% with the Congress and would remain so. Some people are spreading rumours. There will be small fights within the organization but that doesn’t mean I am quitting.”
"There is a rumour I am leaving Congress, I do not know who is spreading this,” he wondered. But, simultaneously, he asserted that, “If speaking truth is a crime, consider me guilty. The people of Gujarat have expectations from us, we have to stand up (for) them." On Thursday, he even said he had taken up the issue with Rahul Gandhi several times, but no action had been taken to address his grievances.
The Congress’s plan to rope in Naresh Patel, another prominent Patidar face, ahead of the 2022 Gujarat election has also angered Hardik Patel. This is the reason he asserted, "You used Hardik in 2017, you want to use Naresh bhai in 2022 and in 2027 you would use another Patidar leader. Why don’t you support and strengthen Hardik?" he told a section of the media.
The Congress has responded cautiously, with state chief Jagdish Thakor saying, "We have seen statements given by Patel in the media. We will call him and discuss the whole matter. We will try to understand what the issues are. Only after that, will we be able to speak..."