Ahmedabad : With the pro-reservation agitation of the Patel community queering the pitch for the ruling BJP in the upcoming Gujarat local body polls, the state Congress perceives in this a bright ray of hope.

To prevent possible division of the minority community votes, the Congress is learnt to have persuaded the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) to drop its plan to enter in the electoral fray here.

“For the first time, the strong decades-old Patel community votebank of the BJP in Gujarat appears to have been split by the palpable public support the young Patel agitators have mobilised to press for their demand of reservations in jobs and educational institutions under the OBC category,” an AIMIM source close to the developments told IANS over phone from Mumbai on Sunday, reports IANS.

“At such a juncture, the AMIM leadership was explained that the Congress cannot simply afford to fritter away Muslim community votes in the local body polls when the BJP’s own Patel votebank is breaking away,” he said, adding that “this could harm the community as a whole”.

After days of efforts, Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel, Gujarat party president Bharatsinh Solanki and strong Ahmedabad legislator Gyasuddin Sheikh are learnt to have impressed upon AIMIM president and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi at the eleventh hour from fielding candidates in local municipal polls to prevent a split in the Muslim voters against the Congress.

The meeting between the Congress leaders and Owaisi occurred at an undisclosed place when Gujarat was celebrating the week-long Diwali festival before the last day of filing nominations for the elections to six city municipal corporations, all controlled by the BJP, earlier in the week.

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