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Hardik Patel likely to join BJP, as party eyes Patidar, youth votes in Gujarat elections

According to a BJP functionary, Patel may also contest the Gujarat polls. The party also sees in him a potential contender against the appeal enjoyed by the Aam Aadmi Party among the youth.

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New Delhi: Former Congress leader Hardik Patel, who resigned from the party a fortnight ago, is likely to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the Gujarat assembly elections, ThePrint has learnt.

The 28-year-old leader, who quit the Congress on 18 May, had leaped into the spotlight with the 2015 Patidar agitation in Gujarat during which he fought for getting Other Backward Classes (OBC) status and reservation for the community.

His resignation from the grand old party, which he had joined a little over three years ago, came ahead of the state’s assembly elections, scheduled to take place later this year.

According to sources in the party, Patel will join the BJP Thursday at its office in Gandhinagar. However, the party has not given any official confirmation of his joining.

“He is a young leader and is quite popular with the youth. He will be used across the state for campaigning especially in the Patel-dominated seats that the BJP had lost in 2017,” said a senior BJP leader from Gujarat.

According to a party functionary, Patel may also contest the Gujarat polls.

“Congress is almost finished and Patel’s entry into the BJP will help reach out to the Patidar community,” added the leader.

Another BJP leader pointed out that Patel can be seen as a potential counter to the appeal enjoyed among youth by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which has its eyes set on the state.

The BJP has been making concerted efforts to woo the Patidar community with Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurating a multi-specialty hospital in Rajkot, an area largely dominated by the community.

Hardik Patel had joined Congress in 2019 but resigned earlier this month amid differences with the state party leadership. He also has been attacking his former party calling it ‘anti-Patidar and anti-Gujarat’.

Although Patel has so far denied joining the BJP, he has been praising the party leadership, as well as flaunting his Hindu identity, during media interactions in the last few weeks.

Negotiations for Patel’s induction have been “going on for more than four months”, sources had earlier told ThePrint.


Also read: Off to BJP now? What Hardik Patel’s Congress resignation means for poll-bound Gujarat


 

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