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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Day after Hardik exit, top Congress leaders have ‘positive’ meeting with Naresh Patel

Party leaders Patidar leader could decide on joining Congress in a week or so

By: Express News Service | Rajkot |
Updated: May 19, 2022 9:31:41 pm
Patidar leader Naresh Patel. (Express File Photo)

A day after Hardik Patel resigned from the Congress, AICC general secretary in-charge of Gujarat Raghu Sharma had a long meeting with Patidar leader Naresh Patel on Thursday morning at the latter’s farmhouse on the outskirts of Rajkot city.

Sharma told The Indian Express that he had a “two-hour-long meeting” with Patel, the outcome of which was “positive”. “I reached his place at 8 am, while the other leaders joined later”, said Sharma.

The Congress leaders, including Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president Jagdish Thakor and Leader of Opposition in the Gujarat Assembly Sukhram Rathwa, who are all in Rajkot for the Saurashtra zonal Chintan Shivir, met Naresh Patel.

On his meeting with the Congress leaders, Naresh Patel told The Indian Express: “Two days ago, Raghu Sharma called me, expressing his desire to meet. Subsequently, a few Congress MLAs also got in touch with me about Sharma wanting to meet me. I told them that they are welcome. Accordingly, we met over breakfast this morning.”

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Naresh Patel has been talking about making his political debut with the Assembly elections scheduled later this year. He reportedly met the Congress high command last week.

On Thursday, he said he was yet to take the final call on whether to join politics or not, or which party to join if he did. Sources, however, told this paper that the decision on whether he joins the Congress or not, might be taken “next week”.

The Congress leaders drove to Patel’s farmhouse Shivansh in Rangpar village near Nyari-II dam on the north-western outskirts of the city and held discussions with the Leauva Patel leader, who is chairman of the Shree Khodaldham Trust (SKT) and one of the leading industrialists of Rajkot.

“We met over breakfast at Naresh Patel’s farm. It was more a courtesy call than anything else,” a Congress leader who was part of the meeting said. He clarified that Naresh Patel was not invited to the Chintan Shivir.

Three days ago, Hardik, also a Patidar face, had met Naresh Patel at Khodaldham, the shrine of Goddess Khodiyar, built by the SKT. Hardik was accompanied by Alpesh Katheriya, the incumbent convenor of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) and PAAS functionary Dinesh Bambhaniya. PAAS had spearheaded the Patidar quota agitation, led by Hardik.

In his resignation letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Hardik wrote about the party leadership’s “lack of seriousness of purpose”.

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