OBC leader Alpesh to join Congress, two Hardik aides embrace BJP

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The announcement came hours after the Congress, which has been out of power in Gujarat for over two decades now, invited Patidar quota stir spearhead Hardik Patel, OBC leader Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani, a protagonist of resurgent Dalit politics in the key western state, to join the party. "We expect them to join us", Solanki said, adding, "Kanu Kalsaria from AAP will also join the Congress".

Mr. Thakor launched a counter agitation under the OBC, ST, SC Ekta Manch to safeguards the interests of those communities which are entitled to quotas in education and government jobs.

Highly placed sources said that Mevani and Thakore have left for Delhi along with Solanki for a meeting with the Congress high command and the possibility of their meeting Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi can not be ruled out. "I hope that the Patidar agitation leader Hardik will also join us", Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki said after the meeting with Mr. Gandhi.

Solanki said Thakor met Gandhi with his "team" and made a decision to join the Congress in the interest of Gujarat.

Elections in Gujarat will be held later this year.

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Solanki said, "PAAS workers and leaders are also angry with the BJP". I now hear that they are ready to join hands with the Congress.

Congress state president Bharatsinh Solanki, meanwhile, also invited members of Aam Aadmi Party, Janata Dal-U and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to form a broad political alliance against the ruling BJP for the forthcoming Assembly polls. Alpesh also informed that the party is extending its offer to two NCP MLAs as well. "The Congress is open to Hardik contesting the elections at a future date from it's platform".

Vasava had said after the Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat in August this year that he had chose to vote for the Congress candidate as he was "unhappy" with the ruling party's works for the poor and tribal population that he represents.

"Constitutionally speaking, I can't contest election and I don't need to, in the first place", he said. "We will contest elections or work as party workers, dispense any responsibility given by BJP during elections", Varun told TOI.

Hardik Patel then said that it's "not the Congress, but six crore Gujaratis who will fight against the BJP". 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. The Patidar community leader said that it was time for a BJP-mukt Gujarat. If Hardik Patel manages to pull majority of the 13 per cent of the Patidar community and if Mr Thakor could bring along the majority of the dominant OBC community (nearly 40 per cent) and Mr Mevani could attract a majority of the seven per cent Dalits, the front would comfortably win.

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