November 2, 2017
Sweta Dutta| Posted by Ganesh Kumar Radha Udayakumar
The Congress has been projecting Mevani, Patel and OBC leader Alpesh Thakor as the trio taking on Prime Minister Modi and has launched a social media blitzkrieg around them. But if any of the leaders step back now, it is set to put the party in a spot.
As talks between the Congress, Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani and Patidar leader Hardik Patel remain inconclusive giving the local leadership last minute jitters, the party’s senior leadership maintained that losing the two leaders’ support might not hurt the Congress’ electoral prospects.
The party has been projecting Mevani, Hardik and OBC leader Alpesh Thakor as the trio taking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and has launched a social media blitzkrieg around them, but if any of the leaders now step back it is set to put the Congress in a spot.
“The talks with Mevani will resume in a couple of days once Rahul’s visit wraps up. Everything will go well. A delegation of leaders of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti has already had a meeting with state Congress Committee president and other senior Congress leaders and the talks have moved forward,” senior state party leader Rohan Gupta told Mail Today.
“A very strong wave in support of the Congress is building up. Day one of Rahul’s yatra has been a huge success…what was planned as a simple point to point yatra turned into a massive road show as people on their own started joining his cavalcade. What we see on the ground is very encouraging,” Gupta added.
“While it is good to have as many leaders with us as possible to put up a strong front against the BJP, some of these leaders such as Mevani and Hardik do not bring with them a sizeable votebank. They are articulate young leaders who are good to have by our side, but if one looks at the statistics closely, how many additional votes can Mevani get for us? The scheduled castes have anyway been traditional Congress voters. As for Hardik, it is to be seen how many disgruntled Patidar votes can he swing for us,” said a senior party functionary.
Soon after the meeting with Congress leaders, Hardik had told reporters, “I am neither against the Congress nor in its favour, but I am against the BJP’s arrogant and autocratic attitude against the Patidars. We maintain the Congress should explain how exactly they would grant reservation under the OBC category.”
Though the party has been putting up a stiff contest to the incumbent BJP in Gujarat, a section of the party’s old guard have been reasoning that the state’s caste equations have never been favourable for the party.
“The BJP has the urban electorate strongly behind it and almost 52 seats from these pockets are with them. That in itself is the game changer. However this time the Patels are disgruntled and that might work in our favour,” said a senior party leader.