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In Modi's Absence in Gujarat, Congress Contemplates Fielding More Patidars

With Narendra Modi no longer at the helm of affairs in Gujarat, the state unit of the Congress party is brainstorming various poll strategies in its bid to come back to power after two decades.

Meghdoot Sharon | CNN-News18

Updated:May 22, 2017, 4:51 PM IST
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In Modi's Absence in Gujarat, Congress Contemplates Fielding More Patidars
Ahmedabad: Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PASS) convener Hardik Patel address a press conference at his house in Ahmedabad on Wednesday. (Image: PTI)

Ahmedabad: With Narendra Modi no longer at the helm of affairs in Gujarat, the state unit of the Congress party is brainstorming various poll strategies in its bid to come back to power after two decades. One strategy being considered is appeasing the Patidar community in a big way primarily by allotting a large number of seats to them.

Insiders within the party say that the option of fielding about 50 Patidar candidates, especially in Saurashtra and Central Gujarat is being studied by the party.

As part of this strategy, the Congress is also looking to promote young and firebrand Patidar leaders like Paresh Dhanani to win over the already disgruntled Patidar youth, who hold the BJP responsible for the not getting community included in the list of OBCs in the state.

It is no secret that top Gujarat Congress leaders have been maintaining constant contact with Hardik Patel, convener of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS). After he was allowed entry back into Gujarat, Patel has been holding regular meetings in Saurashtra and North Gujarat over the issue of reservation for the Patel community in educational institutes and government jobs.

Although Hardik has publicly maintained that he will not join the Congress or any other political outfit, it does appear that a section of the Patidar youth, who are angry over police atrocities during the reservation stir, will not vote for the BJP.

“The policies of the BJP has alienated the Patidars. We have several senior Patidar leaders like Siddharth Patel and young and firebrand Patidar leaders like Paresh Dhanani. As part of our election strategy, all these aspects are being considered,” senior Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia told News18.

At the recently concluded state executive of the Congress, one of the demands made by Congress office bearers was promoting Paresh Dhanani and giving him important responsibilities in the state unit.

Many in the Gujarat Congress believe that infusing fresh and firebrand leadership, ahead of the polls, will boost the party’s chances in the assembly elections scheduled for the end this year. Dhanani, who is Congress MLA from Amreli in Saurashtra, has, in fact, led all the Congress protests in the recently concluded budget session of the Gujarat assembly and even sat on a protest fast outside the assembly in Gandhinagar after being suspended from the house for unruly behaviour.

Whether the Congress will adopt this strategy or not, only time will tell. However, with Modi no longer at the helm in Gujarat and having changed two CMs in the past three years, this year’s assembly election appears to be the Congress’ best shot at power in the state.

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