Huge blow to Gujarat Congress as Hardik Patel quits party
In a huge blow to Congress, its Gujarat leader Hardik Patel resigned from the primary membership of the party on Wednesday amid speculations of infighting in the party's state unit. The Patidar leader was miffed with the state party leaders over his role ahead of the Assembly polls due later this year. He had not attended Congress's Chintan Shivir in Udaipur last week.
- Right before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Patidar activist-turned-politician had joined the Congress.
- He was made the working president of the Gujarat Congress—a post, he alleged had little meaning in the party.
- He had been disgruntled over the past few weeks with the state leadership sidelining him and making him feel like a "groom forced into nasbandi (vasectomy)."
"I am gathering the courage to resign from the Congress party and post. I am sure my decision will be welcomed by my colleagues and the people of Gujarat." "I believe that with this step, I will be able to work really positively for Gujarat in the future," Patel posted on Twitter, sharing his resignation letter to Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
आज मैं हिम्मत करके कांग्रेस पार्टी के पद और पार्टी की प्राथमिक सदस्यता से इस्तीफा देता हूँ। मुझे विश्वास है कि मेरे इस निर्णय का स्वागत मेरा हर साथी और गुजरात की जनता करेगी। मैं मानता हूं कि मेरे इस कदम के बाद मैं भविष्य में गुजरात के लिए सच में सकारात्मक रूप से कार्य कर पाऊँगा। pic.twitter.com/MG32gjrMiY— Hardik Patel (@HardikPatel_) May 18, 2022
Taking a dig at Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, Patel wrote in his lengthy resignation letter, "Our leader was abroad when he was needed in India during critical times." "When I met top leaders, they seemed distracted by their mobile phones and other issues as opposed to listening to issues concerning Gujarat," Patel said on not being able to meet Gandhi on his Gujarat visit.
Despite several attempts to "steer the Congress in the right direction, it has constantly been working against the interests of the country and the society," the 28-year-old leader said. The Congress "has been rejected in virtually every state because they have no roadmap to present to the people." The disgruntled leader further said that the Congress can't be an alternative to lead the state.
Accusing the party leadership of lacking seriousness about major issues concerning India, Gujarat, and the Patidar community, Patel said all that they did was "oppose whatever Government of India led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji did!" He also heaped praises on PM Modi for certain decisions including abrogation of Article 370, implementation of GST, and construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya.
Patel also wrote in the letter that when workers like him travel 500-600km in a day to meet people of the state, big leaders are more focused on "ensuring that chicken sandwich for leaders who have come from Delhi is delivered on time." "Gujaratis can never forget how the Congress party has insulted Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel," he added.
Patel said that the Congress leadership "strongly dislikes Gujarat and has no interest in the state." "We are in the 21st century...and the youth wants a strong and capable leader...Whenever I went among the youth I was always asked why I was in a party which constantly insulted Gujaratis—in the business sector, in matters of religion, and even in politics," the Patidar leader wrote.
On April 14, 2022, Patel had alleged that state unit leaders were harassing him and wanted him to leave the party. Patel alleged that although he apprised Rahul Gandhi of the issue, no action was taken. He was also reportedly miffed at the Congress's plan to rope in the Khodaldham Temple Trust chairperson Naresh Patel, a prominent Patidar face, ahead of 2022 Assembly polls.
Patel, belonging to north Gujarat's influential vote bank Kadva Patidar community, rose to prominence while leading the Patidar agitation in 2015, demanding benefits of OBC quota. In 2017 Assembly elections, he had backed the Congress. However, things changed after he joined the party in 2019 with political observers saying that he seemed to have "lost his sheen" and his crowd-pulling ability took a hit.