Updated: May 20, 2022 1:41:15 pm
In a scathing attack on his former party a day after quitting it, Hardik Patel on Thursday alleged that the Congress defames those who resign by claiming that they do so for money or because they are scared of the ruling BJP. But, he added that the party never bothers to understand the problems faced by such leaders or the issues raised by them.
At a press conference, the Patidar leader named former Congress MLAs Alpesh Thakor, who was once a rival, and Asha Patel, one of his associates who died in December. Both of them quit the party in 2019 ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
“Why can’t you understand anybody’s pain? Why don’t you sit with them? When so many MLAs are resigning in Gujarat, you are saying that he or she has been bought over. Why didn’t you say, ‘He or she must have some problem and he or she must have left because I could not understand the problem.’ Whether it is concerning Alpesh Thakor or Ashaben Patel, who is no more, or concerning the MLAs of Saurashtra. All those people quit unhappy after getting troubled. Because these people wanted to work for the common public,” Hardik said.
Alpesh Thakor came into the limelight as a leader of the Thakor community, which is categorised as an Other Backward Class (OBC) group, while opposing Hardik’s 2015 agitation demanding OBC status for the Patidar community. He subsequently aligned with the Congress and formally joined the party in Rahul Gandhi’s presence in October 2017.
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Alpesh was elected to the Assembly from Radhanpur constituency in the elections that year but resigned from the House in July 2019 after voting against the whip of the party in the Rajya Sabha elections for two seats. Congress MLA Dhavalsinh Zala from Bayad in Aravalli district also joined Thakor in cross-voting before resigning as the legislator.
Both of them joined the BJP. During his induction into the ruling party, Alpesh accused the Congress of betraying him and compared it to a “weak school”. He claimed to have been distracted by the “beautiful building of the school” but added that he had returned to “an intellectual gurukul”.
Alpesh contested the Radhanpur by-election but lost to his former party’s candidate Raghu Desai.
A close aide of Hardik during the Patidar quota agitation, Asha Patel lost the Assembly election from Unjha constituency in Mehsana district in 2012. Five years later, however, she turned out to be a giant-killer by defeating six-time BJP MLA and former minister Narayan Patel from the same seat.
In February 2019, months before Alpesh’s resignation, Asha resigned from the Assembly as well as the Congress. In her resignation letter to then party president Rahul Gandhi, Asha said she was quitting due to “prevalent infighting” in the Congress and because the leadership ignored her. She claimed that her representations to the high command about the state of affairs in the Gujarat unit were ignored and added that she did not see the Congress growing any further in the state. Subsequently, she joined the BJP and was re-elected from Unjha.
Asked about Hardik’s allegations, Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi told The Indian Express, “His allegations are completely false. This is just a pretext under which he is looking for opportunities to join a rival party (BJP). Hardik is only speaking the text given to him by the BJP. The Congress has never defamed any leader who has quit the party. And all of the leaders who quit Congress did so to fulfil their ambitions or to remedy personal problems.”
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