Right after the announcement of the dates for the Lok Sabha Polls, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) held its major strategy meeting with party leaders at Ahmedabad, in Gujarat on March 12. Hardik Patel, who was the driving force behind the reservation movement in Gujarat for Patidars in government jobs and education, joined the Congress on Tuesday. Hardik Patel’s apolitical organization Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti which was in the vanguard of the Patidar Reservation Agitation had extended its support to the Congress in 2015 local elections and 2017 Assembly Elections. Since then, the BJP has identified him as “an agent of the Congress”.
Why is this important for the Congress
After Priyanka Gandhi’s appointment in the Congress as General Secretary earlier this year, Hardik Patel’s joining the Congress a month before the polls show that the party is gearing up well for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The Congress Party is zooming in the state of Gujarat, the Prime Minister’s home state, apart from many other key states to give a stiff competition to the ruling party this year. Patel’s support to the party in 2017 General Assembly elections helped 81 seats. The Congress is looking out for a good number of votes from the Patidar community with Patel associating himself with the party.
Hardik Patel’s justification for joining Congress
The CWC meeting held at Sardar Patel National Memorial witnessed the presence of key leaders of the party. Congress President Rahul Gandhi, his mother Sonia Gandhi, the scion of the Gandhi family Priyanka Gandhi Vadra sat with former Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh. The major policy-making body of the party held this meeting to discuss election strategies, where Hardik Patel announced his decision to join the Congress led by Rahul Gandhi stating clearly the reason behind his decision, “People ask me why I chose the Congress and Rahul Gandhi. I chose Rahul Gandhi because he is honest. He does not believe in working like a dictator”.
Important Details of the CWC Meeting:
The CWC meeting on Tuesday began with remembering and paying tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at Sabarmati Ashram. The CWC meeting is being regarded as a matter of prime as it took place just two days after the announcement of the election dates and is being held after a gap of 58 years. In the meeting, the Congress lashed out BJP on several grounds. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was accused of “trying to divide the people and playing with their emotions for political gains“. Sonia Gandhi called out the BJP led government on ”politicising” issues of national interest. Apart from discussing issues of unemployment, terrorism and demonetization, alliances were also discussed in order to fight “unitedly” against the Modi Government. The meeting had been postponed due to the Pulwama Attack on February 14. After the CWC meeting, Rahul Gandhi tweeted, ”This battle will be won”.
Patel’s position in the Congress
Patel, who is 25 years old, has expressed his desire to contest for the Jamnagar seat in the upcoming elections. However, he has to cross many legal barriers related to the Patidar quota agitation in order to be eligible to contest polls. He has been sentenced to two years pertaining to the riots during quota agitation. Presently, the Jamnagar seat is represented by BJP’s Poonamben Maadam. Patel on Tuesday said, “Mahatma Gandhi started Dandi March this day and said he (Mahatma Gandhi) will overthrow the British. I am joining the same Congress party which, in the past, has been led by Subhash Chandra Bose, Pandit Nehru, Sardar Patel, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, the people who worked to strengthen our country,” He has also pledged to work for the six crore people of Gujarat in a better manner while justifying his decision to enter politics at this crucial stage, right before the polls. Patel also attacked the Prime Minister for carrying out election campaign right after the Pulwama attack and the surgical strike, while Congress decided to postpone their rally. Commenting on the charge of dynastic politics on the Congress by the BJP, he said there’s nothing wrong in that where people are joining in a position to serve people. Hardik tweeted before his appearance on March 12 saying, “To give shape to my intentions, to serve society & country, I have decided to join Indian National Congress on 12th March in presence of Shri Rahul Gandhi & other senior leaders”. He was welcomed by the Congress President who is anticipating positive outcomes from Patel’s constituency.
Sources-Hindustan Times, NDTV, India Today, News18
Image Credits- Firstpost, Moneycontrol, NDTV.