Quota spearhead Hardik Patel’s key aides — Varun Patel and Reshma Patel — have joined the ruling BJP in poll-bound Gujarat in a dramatic turn of events. The development came on October 21, hours after State Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki invited Mr. Hardik Patel to join hands with the party.
Mr. Solanki even promised to give an additional 20% reservation to economically backward classes in the State if the Congress is voted to power in the upcoming Assembly elections.
Mr. Varun Patel and Ms. Reshma Patel were among the prominent faces of the Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) and remained critical of the ruling BJP during the agitation.
They joined the BJP after a meeting with Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel and State party chief Jitu Vaghani during its parliamentary board meeting, which was also attended by BJP president Amit Shah.
After joining the BJP, the Patidar leaders alleged that Mr. Hardik Patel had become a “Congress agent” and was trying to use the agitation to overthrow the present State government.
Our agitation was about getting reservation under the OBC quota, not about uprooting the BJP and bringing the Congress to power,” Ms. Reshma Patel said.
While the BJP always supported the community and accepted a majority of our demands, Congress is only trying to use Patels as a vote bank. We do not want to be part of such malicious conspiracy,” she claimed.
“This agitation was not of Hardik Patel’s alone. He is now acting like a Congress agent. Varun and I are of the opinion that the BJP would definitely fulfil our demands,” she claimed.
Varun Patel said the Patidar community would never allow the Congress to take over the reins of Gujarat by “inciting” Patel youths.
“The BJP government [in the State] held talks with us in the past to resolve various issues. However, the Congress never held such talks, as they were not committed. We have decided to join BJP because we do not want to run the agitation by becoming Congress agents,” he said.
“The BJP government even promised us to represent the issue of reservation to the OBC Commission. BJP leaders also promised us to provide legal help in case we want to take up the matter with the Supreme Court,” he added.
Unfazed by the announcement of his key aides, Mr. Hardik Patel said in a tweet he that will continue to fight for the people.
“The centipede will continue to run even if some of his legs break. People are with me, and I will continue to fight for them,” he said.