Taking the prevailing socio-political unrest in Gujarat as an opportunity to strengthen its electoral base, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has decided to send former Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel to camp in the state after Diwali to lead its cadres to increase its mass base.
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In Gujarat’s neighbouring state, Maharashtra, the NCP was in power for 15 years, along with the Congress. “I will be camping here after Diwali to expand the base of my party in the state. The party leadership has given me that mandate,” Patel told reporters here.
“We are not a big party as Congress and BJP here. But there are vast opportunities here,” the former Union Minister said. “The Patel quota agitation and the way state government dealt with it by slapping sedition charges on quota agitation leaders is unprecedented. In Maharashtra, Marathas daily take out rallies for reservation,” Patel said without naming quota stir leader Hardik Patel.
“Dalits have also started agitation here against atrocities on them,” Patel said, referring to Dalits flogging incident at Una. Patel, who originally hails from Gujarat, has settled in Maharashtra and has been five times Lok Sabha MP.
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Patel is at present Rajya Sabha MP of NCP.
NCP has been fighting elections in Gujarat for past several years. In the last Assembly elections held in 2012, the party had won two seats. Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP has also announced to fight the state elections in a big way. Patel said that NCP is ready to have alliance with “like-minded parties” like Janta Dal(U), which has one MLA in Gujarat Assembly. “I have met Nitish Kumar and informally discussed about the elections. But all that is too far as elections will be held after one year,” Patel said.
With PTI in Puts