Patidar leader Hardik Patel’s close aides, Varun Patel and Reshma Patel, who joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday ahead of the upcoming Assembly polls, said they had led the movement to secure Other Backward Class (OBC) reservation for the community and not to make Congress win. “The movement was for reservation, not for removing BJP and bringing Congress to power. If Rahul Gandhi declares that he will give OBC reservation to the Patidar people, we are ready to join Congress. Our main aim and demand is reservation for Patidars in OBC category. We have discussed all the demands with the government, the Chief Minister and the state President. They all have given us a commitment that they will fulfill all our demands. It’s the time of elections, we will not let Congress take victory in Gujarat,” Varun Patel told ANI.
Resonating a similar viewpoint, Reshma Patel accused agitation spearhead Hardik Patel of working as an agent of the Congress. “Our fight was to get justice for our society but not to make Congress win. Hardik Patel has been working as an agent of Congress. BJP has accepted three of our demands so we should be in their support. If Congress doesn’t give the reservation then why should we support it? Nobody will support Hardik Patel in his selfish motive. He is also trying to make Congress Party’s vote bank strong. Rahul Gandhi must declare that he would provide reservation to Patidar community and how will he do that,” she said.
The two leaders, who were prominent faces of Hardik Patel’s Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), announced their decision to join the BJP following their meeting with party chief Amit Shah on Saturday. Earlier in the day, another Patidar leader Hardik Patel had turned down the Congress’ invitation to fight the Gujarat Assembly election jointly, saying the polls were not a BJP-Congress fight. On the contrary, Thakor community and OBC Ekta Manch leader Alpesh Thakor confirmed that he would be joining the Congress Party, after he, accompanied by Ashok Gehlot and Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki met the party Vice President Rahul Gandhi at the latter’s residence here.
The 14th legislative assembly election in Gujarat is to be held by the end of 2017 as the term of 13th assembly ends on January 22, 2018. It could be noted that in the run up to the Gujarat election, the Congress promised to give Patidars 20 percent reservations under the “economically backward classes” quota.