Gujarat election 2017: Hardik Patel’s Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) has reportedly decided to support the Congress in the upcoming assembly elections in the state. Reports say that PAAS leaders will also fight the polls on Congress tickets. The party is yet to announce its first list of candidates. The new development in the state is expected to boost the Congress party’s prospects in the high-octane battle against the ruling BJP in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Congress campaign is being led by vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who is expected to be soon elected as the head of his party. Earlier, Patel had set a deadline for the Congress to announce its plan about providing reservation in jobs and education to the members of his community in the state. The details of the Congress’ proposal to the PAAS is not yet out.
Patidars constitute 15% of the total electorates in the state. They can influence the election outcome in around 60 out of the 182 seats in Gujarat assembly. BJP is in power in the state for the last 22 years. Congress hopes that anti-incumbency and the support of young leaders like Patel, OBC leader Alpesh Thakore and Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani will help it make a comeback in the state. The two-phase election Gujarat will take place on December 9 and 14 while the results will be announced on December 18.
Hardik’s aide joins BJP
Meanwhile, on Saturday, another former close aide of Hardik Patel joined the ruling BJP along with two other ex-PASS members in presence of Union minister Mansukh Mandaviya in Ahmedabad. Ketan Patel had accompanied Hardik in jail in a sedition case but later turned approver. He was acquitted of the charges. He has now joined the BJP with former PAAS members Amrish Patel and Shweta Patel. Ketan joined BJP days two days after Hardik Patel’s another former close aide Chirag Patel had joined the saffron party.
Both Ketan and Chirag were expelled from t PAAS in August last year. Hardik had alleged that the duo were playing into the hands of some BJP leaders, who were “trying to weaken the (quota) stir”.