Ahmedabad: With Patel Anamat Andolan Samiti leader Hardik Patel announcing that he will join the Congress party, the buzz in political circles is that he will fight the Lok Sabha election from Jamnagar.
The constituency in the Saurashtra region has nearly 2.5 lakh Patel voters, and the Congress intends to give the BJP a tough fight by fielding him.
However, he will have to clear a legal obstacle. He has been convicted by a local court in a case of causing riots. The court has suspended his sentence and he is on bail. He applied for a stay on his conviction on March 9. He can contest the elections if he secures the stay.
Interestingly, Mr Patel is joining the Congress at a time when the party in the state is struggling to retain its MLAs. Five of its MLAs have already switched over to the BJP and others are believed to be in queue. In this scenario, party leaders believe that Mr Patelâs joining will give the party some relief.
All this forms the backdrop for the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting being held in Ahmedabad on Monday to mark the historic Dandi March. There will be a public rally after the CWC meeting in which Mr Patel will formally take the plunge into politics.
âWith the intention to serve society and the country at large, I have decided to join the Congress,â Mr Patel said, announcing his decision.
The trio of Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mewani sprang to prominence during the strong reservation stir before the Assembly elections in December 2017.
While Mr Thakor joined the Congress and became an MLA, Mr Mewani was elected as an independent with Congressâs support. Mr Patelâs debut in politics will complete the circle. There are reports that Mr Thakor could be joining the BJP; a third Congress legislator defected on Monday.
It all started in July 2015, when the demand for reservations for the Patidar community began, with a small bike rally in Visnagar in north Gujarat. Mr Patel, then 22, took the lead and won huge public support. As the agitation grew, he emerged as the unchallenged youth leader. He remained at the centre of things during the Gujarat Assembly elections and campaigned hard to defeat the BJP.
âWe welcome Hardik Patel into the Congress family and we hope that the party will benefit with his presence,â Congress state in-charge Rajiv Satav said.