Days after criticising Gujarat Congress leaders, Hardik Patel now praises BJP

NEW DELHI: Months ahead of the assembly elections in Gujarat, the Congress stares at the prospect of losing a key leader in the state.
Hardik Patel has put the grand old party in a spot of bother with his lavish praise for the ruling BJP.
The working president of Gujarat Congress, who had openly criticised the party’s state unit leaders recently, has now praised the BJP leadership’s “decision-making” virtues.
The Congress leader has also for the first time dropped hints that his options were “open”, according to media reports.
Hardik had played a key role in the strong performance put up by the Congress in the 2017 assembly elections when the party won 77 seats and restricted the BJP to 99.
Hardik had spearheaded the Patidar community campaign in Gujarat in 2015 seeking reservations under the OBC category.
Expressing displeasure over the Gujarat Congress’s “style of functioning”, Hardik had claimed that he was sidelined in the state unit and the leadership was not willing to utilise his skills.
“I am being harassed so much that I feel bad about it. Gujarat Congress leaders want me to leave the party … I am more pained because I have conveyed the situation to Rahul Gandhi many times, but no action has been taken,” Hardik had said.
The Congress’s plan to rope in chairman of the Khodaldham Temple Trust Naresh Patel, a prominent Patidar face, ahead of 2022 state polls has apparently angered Hardik, who believes that his clout as Patidar leader will be finished if Naresh Patel joins the Congress party.
“You used Hardik in 2017, you want to use Naresh bhai in 2022 and in 2027 you would use another Patidar leader. Why don’t you support and strengthen Hardik?” he said.
“They should take Naresh bhai, but will they treat him like the way the way they did to me?” he asked.
Hardik said despite being a working president of the party’s state unit, no work has been given to him. “I am not called to attend important meetings or not made part of any decision making process,” he claimed.