Patidar leader Hardik Patel has said that the Congress party wants to keep the Patels, an influential community in Gujarat, at a distance as they do not want to take along the upper castes. “They don’t want to keep Hardik with them, nor do they want to take Naresh (Patel). They don’t want anyone from the general category,” Hardik said, referring to the Congress in an interview with The Indian Express.
“They talk about the KHAM (Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi, Muslim) theory helping them form the government and thus keep fooling the Gandhi family. The question is why have they not formed a government after 1985?” Hardik added in response to a question on whether the buzz over the entry of Naresh Patel into Congress has caused him unease.
Hardik also took on the Gandhi family for ignoring the Patidar community after he joined the Congress. “Even the Gandhi family… because of whatever happened with Sardar Patel, wants to keep Gujarat’s Patels at arm’s length… Vitthal Radadiya, why was he not made a Union minister? Because he was a strong Patidar. Dinsha Patel was never made a Cabinet minister, only Minister of State, he had a big role in keeping the identity of Sardar Patel alive,” The Indian Express quoted Patel as saying.
Hardik also virtually ruled out the possibility of Naresh Patel, a Leuva Patidar who heads the Shree Khodaldham Temple Trust, joining the Congress. “There is no clarity. When I met Nareshbhai first, I told him, I don’t think the Congress will help us in our matters. The Congress has nothing to do with people. They are only concerned about those 60-65 seats by which they can ensure one-two Rajya Sabha seats. Forming the government is a far cry,” Hardik said.
Having joined the Congress in 2019 and appointed working president of the state unit in 2020, Hardik Patel resigned from the party on May 18. In his resignation letter addressed to party president Sonia Gandhi, Hardik said the party’s top leaders seemed more interested in “messages they had received on their mobile (phones)” — and behaved as if “they hate Gujarat and Gujaratis” while state leaders were “more focussed” in arranging chicken sandwiches for them.
Asked about his future course of action after quitting the Congress, Hardik said that his options were open. Having come out in praise of the BJP earlier, Hardik said that the Aam Aadmi Party looks better suited to take on the BJP in the long run than the Congress. Predicting a one-sided outcome in the Gujarat elections slated for later this year, Hardik said that he saw AAP’s strategy better than the Congress.
“AAP’s aggression shows because its national leaders are constantly travelling and they are more in the media limelight even for the smallest things. They are in the whole of Gujarat. In the case of the Congress, all their leaders go to one place – Saurashtra, Surat, Vadodara (where the recent regional Chintan Shivirs for Gujarat were held)… Their (AAP) strategy is definitely better than the Congress’s. That’s what I was tired of telling the Congress,” he said.