In his most explicit statement, Hardik Patel has urged Patidars to vote for Congress in the upcoming Gujarat assembly polls in order to vote BJP out of power.
“I have been telling my community that they have to vote the BJP out of power…the community is directly supporting the fall of the BJP,” Patel, arguably the most popular face of the powerful Patidar community in Gujarat, was quoted by NDTV.
When asked who his community would vote for, the 24-year-old leader said, “People are intelligent. When I tell them to vote the BJP out, they know who to vote for.”
The statement has come as a major boost for the Congress party and its vice president, Rahul Gandhi, who is scheduled to address a crucial rally in Surat on 3 November.
Patel also rejected the allegations of other Patidar groups, who accused him of having sold himself out saying that “they are not real representatives of Patidars. They are propped up by the BJP.”
Patel has already gone public asking his community to not vote for the BJP even if the party fielded his father as a candidate. Alpesh Thakor, the powerful OBC leader, has already joined the Congress. Another popular Dalit Leader, Jignesh Mevani, too has been campaigning against the BJP even though he has not formally extended his support to the Congress party.
Gujarat goes to polls in two stages on 9 and 14 December respectively. The BJP is fighting an anti-incumbency of 22 years on multiple fronts.
The date of filing of nominations for the first phase of Gujarat polls covering 89 constituencies in 19 districts will be November 14 and the last date will be November 21. The scrutiny of nominations will take place the next day and the last day of withdrawal will be November 24.