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Hardik ‘hasn’t decided to join BJP’, says Congress is most casteist, anti-Gujarati party

The Patidar leader says Congress targets the prime minister, Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani ‘only because they are Gujaratis’ but fails to support ‘popular demands’ related to the CAA, Ayodhya Ram temple and the Varanasi ‘Shivling discovery’.

Written by Parimal A Dabhi | Ahmedabad |
Updated: May 20, 2022 2:36:10 am
Former Congress leader Hardik Patel addresses a press conference in Ahmedabad on Thursday. (Express Photo)

A day after he quit the Congress, Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel said Thursday that he had not decided on joining the BJP or any other party yet and called the Congress the biggest “casteist and anti-Gujarati party”, which attacked various leaders from the state only because they were Gujaratis—be it (Mukesh) Ambani or (Gautam) Adani.

Addressing a press conference in Ahmedabad after his resignation, Hardik said, “For the past two days, there has been a discussion that Hardik will go to the BJP or AAP. I tell you honestly that there is no such planning. And if there will be any (such planning), I will take a decision with pride. I will tell you upfront that I am going to take this decision.”

“Yesterday, a Congress leader was saying that now Hardik will join the BJP. I have not gone to the BJP. And so far, I have not taken a decision to join the BJP,” Hardik said.

Hardik launched a scathing attack on the Congress and its state and national leaderships. “From 2019 to 2022, we have understood the Congress from close quarters. We used to hear that the Congress is a party which only does caste-based politics. But for the first time, I came to know that the biggest caste-based politics lies within the Congress.”

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Accusing the Congress of being “anti-Gujarati”, Hardik said, “In the current situation, one thing has become very certain that the Congress does not want to do any good for Gujarat or the people of Gujarat. Tell me one thing: when some leader from Delhi comes to Gujarat, why does he level allegations against Gujaratis who are doing well. We can talk about Sardar Patel. We talk about Morarji Desai. We can talk about (Gautam) Adani-(Mukesh) Ambani. No matter how (good) a prime minister of the country could be, the Congress leaders have levelled personal allegations against him because he is a Gujarati,” he said.

“Adani and Ambani have become rich with their hard work. And in Gujarat, even a smallest person or a smallest entrepreneur would dream to be Adani or Ambani. Every person would look up to a big businessman as a role model. Instead of that, we have been listening to Congress leaders abusing Adani-Ambani for the past seven years.”

Hardik said that whenever a person from the Congress raised his voice against the party and its leadership, leaders defamed him or her. “From 2002 to 2022, the total period of 12 years is such wherein the reins of the party have remained with only one family (in Gujarat). And therefore, when you try to speak out the truth, the Congress defames you. When a person speaks against the party, people allege that he has been bought over or has been scared (of the ruling BJP party),” he said.

“From 2002 to 2022, 117 leaders have quit the party, which includes more than 27 MLAs, more than 12 former MPs, and 42 former MLAs. The Congress needs to do ‘chinta (worry)’ and not ‘chintan (brainstorming)’,” he added.

Hardik also claimed that a long queue of leaders and workers was waiting to quit the Congress. He alleged that the Congress did not have vision to win elections in the state. He launched a scathing attack on the state and central leaderships of the party including Rahul Gandhi.

“I have to say it with grief whenever Rahul-ji came to Gujarat, he did not utter a word on the problems of Gujarat. And our (state) leaders would not think about apprising him about those issues of Gujarat, but would be concerned about the type of chicken sandwich and Diet Coke to be given to Rahul-ji.”

Hardik said the Congress always defamed leaders who quit the party without bothering to know why they had quit. He named Alpesh Thakor and the late Asha Patel (former Unjha MLA) in this context.

Hardik accused the Congress of not speaking out in support of “popular” demands related to the Citizenship Amendment Act and the Ayodhya Ram temple. In a reference to the Gyanvapi mosque case, the Patidar leader said that the party should have said that if a Shivling had been discovered in the mosque, then a temple should be built there.

Seeking apologies from the people of the state and his Patidar community for asking them to vote for the Congress in 2017, Hardik said, “I want to apologise to the people of Gujarat for convincing them to vote for them (Congress) and to give them one chance…I want to apologise to the people of my (Patidar) community. When leaders of my community and trustees of temples were telling me that I was taking a wrong decision (of joining Congress), I thought that the Congress must have some formula for doing good work. But they have no such formula.”

On a personal note, Hardik said that none of the Congress leaders – except Shaktisinh Gohil – had come to console him in person when his father died last year. He asked how a party unable to understand its working president’s pain would understand the pain of the people.

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