Incumbent Gujarat Congress Speaker Hardik Patel, who recently claimed that the party’s state unity leaders were “harassing” him, praised the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday, saying that the BJP is strong because it has politicians with leadership qualities. “We have to recognize the strength of our rivals; they are powerful and should never be underestimated,” Patel told reporters, according to the Hindustan Times’ sister publication Livehindustan.
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The 28-year-old, who rose to prominence as the leader of the Patidar agitation in 2015, has reiterated that he will not leave the big old party, which he joined in March 2019.
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“As the opposition, we failed to raise people’s issues. The opposition should put people’s problems before the government and fight for it. If we can’t do that, people will look for alternatives,” he said, possibly referring to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which has already urged him to switch sides.
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Patel has also described himself as a “Rambhakt”. “We believed in Lord Ram. On my father’s birthday, I will distribute 4,000 copies of the Bhagavad Gita. We are Hindus and proud to be Hindus,” he remarked.
Welcoming the remarks, Gujarat BJP leader CR Patil praised Hardik Patel for making the comments publicly.
Meanwhile, for the Congress, the situation comes months before the Gujarat Assembly elections, which are likely to be held in December. The western state has been a stronghold of the BJP for almost three decades. The Congress, meanwhile, last had a chief minister in Gujarat in 1995.