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Day after Hardik's resignation, Gujarat Congress leaders call on Naresh Patel

IANS | May 19, 2022 05:18 PM

RAJKOT: A Congress delegation led by the party's Gujarat in-charge Raghu Sharma met Khodaldham managing trustee and influential Leuva Patel leader Naresh Patel on Thursday.

While the party leaders claimed after the meeting that it was a courtesy call, local sources claimed that Naresh Patel did not respond to Congress' invitation to join the party.

The meeting came a day after Patidar leader and Congress state Working President, Hardik Patel, quit the party.

There have been talks that Naresh Patel might make his political debut ahead of the Assembly elections scheduled later this year.

The Congress delegation, which included Sharma, state Congress chief Jagdish Thakor, Leader of Opposition Sukhram Rathva, former President Amit Chavda, former Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani and Tankara MLA Lalit Kagathra, met Naresh Patel at the latter's farm house on Thursday morning. The meeting lasted for about 15 to 20 minutes.

After the meeting, Thakor and Dhanani termed it as a courtesy call, and nothing else. But local sources said that during the meeting, Sharma invited Naresh Patel to join the party. The sources also said that Sharma conveyed to him that the party will contest the Assembly elections under his guidance, leadership, and the campaign will be planned as per his design and wish.

The sources said that Naresh Patel offered the delegation tea and snacks, but did not respond to the invitation.

Later, speaking to the media, Thakor and Dhanani said the party's zonal meeting was planned in Rajkot to prepare for senior party leader Rahul Gandhi's upcoming proposed tour, so they used the opportunity to call on Naresh Patel.

Meanwhile, even before the Congress spoke about the meeting with Naresh Patel, Hardik Patel told media persons that the meeting between Congress leaders and Naresh Patel lasted only 15 minutes, and wondered what must have conspired in those 15 minutes.

Party sources said that there are two theories doing the rounds in the party. There is one group which believes that if Naresh Patel joins the Congress, it will help the party make deeper inroads in the Patidar vote bank. He can even be projected as the Chief Ministerial face of the party.

The other theory is that if Naresh Patel is projected as the CM face, OBC and other committed vote banks will distance themselves from the Congress, and since this is the core bank of the party, the party can't afford to lose it.

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