Jolting the Congress in the countdown to Assembly elections in Gujarat later this year, Patidar leader Hardik Patel, who was made working president of the state unit two years ago, resigned from the party Wednesday, saying its top leaders seemed more interested in “messages they had received on their mobile (phones)”, behaved as if “they hate Gujarat and Gujaratis” while state Congress leaders were “more focussed” in arranging chicken sandwiches for them.
In his resignation letter, addressed to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and posted on Twitter, Hardik took a swipe at Rahul Gandhi without naming him: “Whenever our country faced challenges and when the Congress needed leadership, Congress leaders were enjoying abroad.”
He accused the party of being “a roadblock” on key issues. “Over the last 3 years, I have found that the Congress party and its leadership, both at central and state level, have been merely reduced to opposing everything, whereas the people always seek an alternative that thinks of their future and is capable of taking India ahead.”
“Be it the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, revocation of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, implementation of GST — India wanted solutions for these subjects for a long time and Congress only played the role of a roadblock and was always only obstructive. When it came to issues related to India, Gujarat and my Patidar community, Congress’s only stand was to oppose whatever Govt of India led by Prime Minister Narendra Modiji did! Congress today has been rejected in almost every state of India because the party and its leadership have not been able to present a basic roadmap to the people.”
Reached for comment after the resignation announcement, Hardik said he was in Himachal Pradesh for “darshan” (pilgrimage).
आज मैं हिम्मत करके कांग्रेस पार्टी के पद और पार्टी की प्राथमिक सदस्यता से इस्तीफा देता हूँ। मुझे विश्वास है कि मेरे इस निर्णय का स्वागत मेरा हर साथी और गुजरात की जनता करेगी। मैं मानता हूं कि मेरे इस कदम के बाद मैं भविष्य में गुजरात के लिए सच में सकारात्मक रूप से कार्य कर पाऊँगा। pic.twitter.com/MG32gjrMiY
— Hardik Patel (@HardikPatel_) May 18, 2022
The Congress reacted angrily, and accused him of being “hand in glove” with the BJP. Raghu Sharma, AICC general secretary in-charge of Gujarat, said his exit would make no impact. “All that he talked about was the cases against him… He joined the party only three years ago. Did the Congress not exist before that?”
“How can he say he was not given responsibility? Isn’t the post of working president a responsibility? He was made star campaigner for Assembly elections in Punjab, UP and Uttarakhand. Isn’t that a responsibility? In these campaigns, he must have spoken out against Modi, isn’t it? Then what happened suddenly that he is praising his decision on Ram Mandir, Article 370 and CAA?” Sharma said.
Senior Congress leader Shaktisihn Gohil said the party had given a “big leadership responsibility” to the young man — Hardik is 28. “But the BJP, scared of losing elections, using CD, the ED, CBI and all other below-the-belt tricks including blackmail, lured and forced him to resign as part of a conspiracy to remain in power,” he said.
In his resignation letter, Hardik wrote: “Whenever I met with the senior leadership, I always felt that leaders were not really interested in hearing about problems concerning the people of Gujarat but were more engrossed on what messages they had received on their mobile (phones) and other trivial things. Whenever our country faced challenges and when the Congress needed leadership, Congress leaders were enjoying abroad. Senior leaders behave in a way like they hate Gujarat and Gujaratis. How in the world can the Congress then expect that people of Gujarat will see them as an alternative to lead our state?”
“It is unfortunate that workers like us, who travel 500-600 kilometres in our cars in a single day to meet people, get to see that big leaders of Congress are far away from the issues of Gujarat but are more focussed on ensuring that chicken sandwich for leaders who have come from Delhi is delivered on time,” he said.
For a year now, Hardik had been making statements against the state party leadership, accusing them of not keeping him in the loop over organisational decisions and sabotaging his political prospects. Hardik did not attend the three-day Chintan Shivir of the Congress in Udaipur that concluded last Sunday although he had been invited to the meeting.
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On Sunday, he met the Shree Khodaldham Trust Chairman and Patidar leader Naresh Patel, along with members of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), an organisation Hardik had founded for the quota agitation. Sources said his plan to quit the Congress was “firmed up after this meeting”.
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