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Patidar leader Hardik Patel rejects the offer, OBC leader Thakor joins Congress while Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani remained non committal

In a bid to lay its caste matrix right in the poll bound Gujarat, the state Congress president Bharatsing Solanki on Saturday invited the three “fiery and charismatic” young leaders, Patidar leader Hardik Patel, OBC leader Alpesh Thakor and Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani, to contest the Assembly polls on Congress symbol.

However, the offer received a mixed response with Patidar leader Hardik Patel rejecting it, while OBC leader Thakor announced his decision to join the congress and Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani remained non committal.

Hardik Patel had responded to Congress’ offer on his twitter saying that he had no ambition to contest the elections. “All we want is our rights and justice,” he tweeted within minutes of the ticket offer by Bharatsinh Solanki, the Gujarat unit chief of the Congress.

Commenting on Thakor's decision to join the Congress, Patel tweeted:

Alpesh Thakur, who met Rahul on Saturday, after being offered the ticket, announced that he would join the congress on October 23.

“Day after tomorrow, October 23, Rahul Gandhi will attend our rally in Ahmedabad, and on the 23rd I will join the Congress. And in Gujarat, a government of the poor, backward and unemployed will be formed,” Thakor said.

Meanwhile, BJP also attempted to set its caste equation in order with two Patidar leaders, Varun Patel and Reshma Patel joining the party after meeting party chief Amit Shah. The two leaders were part of Hardik Patel-led Patidar quota agitation and remained critical of the ruling BJP during the stir.

After joining the BJP,  Patidar leaders told reporters that Hardik had become a “Congress agent” and was trying to use the agitation to overthrow the present state government. “Our agitation was about getting reservation under the OBC quota, not about uprooting the BJP and bringing the Congress to power. While the BJP always supported the community and accepted a majority of our demands, Congress is only trying to use Patels as a vote bank. We do not want to be part of such malicious conspiracy,” Reshma Patel said.

“This agitation was not of Hardik Patel‘s alone. He is now acting like a Congress agent. Varun and I are of the opinion that the BJP would definitely fulfill our demands,” she said

Meanwhile Jignesh Mevani, convener of the Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch has not yet revealed to which party he would join. He said he would take decision only after meeting representatives of other Dalit welfare organisations.  “Yes, I did hear about the offer. We will sit with members of Dalit organisations over the next few days and take a call. However, I am certain about one thing — the current Gujarat government ought to be removed from power.”

For the past couple of years the three leaders from Patidar, OBC and Dalit communities have influenced the state politics, drawing huge crowds. OBCs vote account for about 51 percent of the Gujarat population and are likely to impact as many as 110 seats out of the 182 in the state Assembly.

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