In a development that will likely to irk the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will soon address joint rallies with Akhil Bhartiya Patel Navnirman Sena leader Hardik Patel in Gujarat. Hardik, who left Gujarat for Udaipur on July 17 after the High Court ordered him to stay out of the state for the next six months, will complete his exile in January next year. Mehsana, Rajkot and Surat have been identified as the areas where the two leaders can launch their joint attack against the BJP next month, according to an Indian Express report. Interestingly there was speculation about CM Kumar’s growing proximity to the BJP in the wake of his support to the Centre’s demonetisation decision. Accompanied by half-a-dozen leaders of various other associations of Patel sub-castes, Hardik is set to meet Nitish in Patna on Tuesday.
According to sources, efforts are on to rope in leaders of other EBC communities, which have not got quota benefits, and Dalit leaders from Gujarat to create a viable anti-BJP alternative. Jignesh Mevani of the Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, who emerged as the face of Dalit protests after the Una incident, had earlier met Hardik in Udaipur. “Unlike in Uttar Pradesh, where only Mulayam Singh Yadav or Mayawati can be the face of the anti-BJP leadership, Nitish and Hardik together can help consolidate a Dalit-Patel-Muslim front in Gujarat. Nitish can be an instrument of unity. For Nitish, Gujarat is more important than Uttar Pradesh. This also scotches all rumours of Nitish coming closer to BJP,” sources told Indian Express.
In September last year, Hardik had declared his support for Nitish ahead of the Bihar assembly polls. Nitish also expressed solidarity with Hardik over his demand for OBC status to Patels and said the government should consider his demand, even as there were different views within the JD(U) over the issue. Hardik wrote to Nitish, saying he welcomed his support.
In October, Nitish also expressed sympathy for Marathas, Jats, Gujjars, Kapus, Reddys and Vokkaligas, who are seeking reservation in Maharasthra, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka, respectively. Nitish was also invited to visit some of these states by those leading the protests there, like Brigadier Sudhir Sawant of the Maratha Kranti Morcha, Rajasthan Gujjar Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti spokesperson Himmat Singh Gurjar, Yudhveer Singh of Jat Samaj and Appaji Gowda of Karnataka State Vokkaligara Sangha. Sawant and Gurjar are also expected to attend the meeting with Nitish on Tuesday.