Updated: April 28, 2022 11:38:23 pm
The Congress Thursday went out of its way to project a picture of bonhomie with sulking leader Hardik Patel, turning up in strength for his father’s death anniversary here and asserting that he had a crucial role in the party. With Hardik’s list of BJP invitees largely staying away, the Patidar leader returned the favour by saying it could be said that the issues he had with the Congress had been resolved.
“Our aim is to form a Congress government in 2022 (the coming Assembly elections), and Hardik Patel will have a key role in it,” Raghu Sharma, the in-charge of the Congress in Gujarat who was present at the Viramgam event, said. Asked about Hardik’s statements expressing unhappiness within the party, he added: “Hardik is the future and an inseparable part, strong pillar of the Congress. He will continue to work for the party, his future is bright.”
The death anniversary of Hardik’s father Bharatbhai, who succumbed to Covid-19, saw recitation of Ram Dhun and Sundar Kand and Hindu priests from different sects. The entire top leadership of the Gujarat Congress was present, including state president Jagdish Thakor, Leader of Opposition Sukhram Rathva, local Congress MLA Lakhabhai Bharwad, former Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani, Dasada MLA Naushad Solanki and former state president Siddharth Patel. Sharma greeted Hardik with a hug on his arrival.
Hardik has been saying that he feels sidelined in the Congress, though adding that he blames the state unit for it rather than the high command.
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The statements by the Congress and Hardik came two days after the chances of the party going with another Patidar face, Naresh Patel, receded. Naresh was said to be the choice of political consultant Prashant Kishor, whose brief flirting with the Congress ended Tuesday.
While Hardik also invited top Gujarat BJP leaders for the Thursday event, including Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel and state president C R Paatil, the only BJP leader of significance who came was former Viramgam MLA Tejashree Patel.
Speaking with mediapersons, Hardik said it was a religious event, and far from political. Expressing happiness that top leaders of the Congress “all came”, he said: “I could have differences with them, but that’s a separate matter. It cannot be in a religious matter. I have said it earlier too that I will resolve whatever personal issues I may have with the party. My objective is the welfare of 6.5 crore people of Gujarat.”
On Sharma calling him an inseparable part of the Congress, who will work to strengthen it, Hardik said, “That is what I have been demanding. I have never demanded anything, but work. If party gives me that, then I will work like a train running at the speed of 110 (km/hour).”
Asked if his problems with the party had been solved, Hardik said: “We will do it, if not done already. And you may think that it has been resolved today… Today they have made a move and come. So, we will resolve it by talking to each other.”
On CM Patel and BJP chief Paatil not attending the function, Hardik said, “If they have not come, why should I be bothered? There was some speculation that the CM was coming. Because of that, roads were cleaned up, our entire society was cleaned up.”
One of the guests at the function and a noted priest of Swaminarayan sect, Nautam Swami, called Hardik a leader with a bright future but added that he should cultivate the virtue of patience. He also suggested that Hardik join a ‘Hinduwadi’ party.
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