Prominent Patidar leader Alpesh Kathiriya on Sunday joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the state, news agency PTI reported. Kathiriya, who was part of the 2015 agitation for reservation to the community in Gujarat, joined the AAP in the presence of the party’s national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal during an election rally in Gariadhar city of Bhavnagar district.
He is a convener of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), an outfit that had organised state-wide agitation demanding Other Backward Class (OBC) status and reservation in government jobs and educational institutions to the youth from the Patidar community. PAAS co-convener Dharmik Malaviya also joined the party.
“All of us will have to come forward in this struggle for the community, for our pride, for the nation, for better education, health and corruption-free good governance. Your support is required,” Kathiriya, who is a friend of Hardik Patel, said in his address in the rally, as quoted by PTI.
Kathariya, who was earlier associated with Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), jumped into the political arena by first joining the Congress where served as its working president before resigning to join the BJP.
He faced more than 22 cases, including sedition, for his involvement in the 2015 reservation agitation, and had spent over 14 months in jail before being released, on bail.
After the induction, Kejriwal welcomed Kathiriya and Malaviya into AAP. “They are struggling leaders who fought a long battle for the rights of youths and went to jail,” said the Delhi CM, as quoted by PTI.
Earlier in the day, prominent Koli community leader Raju Solanki and his son Brajraj Solanki joined the party in Bhavnagar in the presence of Kejriwal.
The Gujarat Assembly elections are due later this year, and the Election Commission is likely to announce the poll date schedule this week for the 182-member Assembly.