Indian firebrand leader Hardik Patel to join Congress

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Ahmedabad: Indian firebrand Patidar leader Hardik Patel is set to join the Congress and even contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, informed sources said on Thursday.

Sources in his Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) confirmed late Thursday that the decision was taken at a meeting held at Tarkhadi village in Rajkot district. According to PAAS leader Gita Patel, only Hardik Patel will join the Congress.

While Hardik Patel could not be reached for comment after several attempts, reliable Congress sources said he would contest from the Jamnagar constituency in Saurashtra region where the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Poonam Madam is the sitting MP.

Patel will join the Congress at the party’s massive rally in Ahmedabad slated for March 12 where General Secretary in charge of East UP, Priyanka Gandhi, will make her first speech after being brought full-time in politics. Congress President Rahul Gandhi, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress treasurer Ahmed Patel, among others, will also be present.

The rally will come after a meeting of the Congress Working Committee, the highest decision-making arm of the party, on the same day.

Explaining why the Congress would not be averse to Hardik Patel joining it, party spokesperson Manish Doshi said the 25-year-old had forced the Narendra Modi government to announce 10 per cent reservation for the economically-weaker sections and raised serious issues of education and unemployment.

Patel had launched his pitched agitation for reservation to Patels (Patidars) in government jobs and educational institutions in July 2015, that resulted in major revival of the Congress, first in the local self-government elections that year and subsequently in the 2017 assembly elections.

He had confirmed last month that he would contest the Lok Sabha elections now that he had turned 25 – the age of eligibility – but had not disclosed if he would join any political party.

(Agencies)