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Patidar leader Hardik Patel from Gujarat joined Congress on Tuesday during the party's Working Committee meeting in Ahmedabad where party chief Rahul Gandhi and party leader Priyanka Gandhi were also present.
Gujarat: Patidar leader Hardik Patel joined Congress party today. pic.twitter.com/YAmQh8fTf9— ANI (@ANI) March 12, 2019
Congress President Rahul Gandhi, United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, party senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, among other senior party leaders, were present in the meeting.
Hardik Patel On Sunday announced that he will contest elections from Jamnagar constituency.
In a series of tweets, he said, "To give shape to my intentions to serve society and country, I have decided to join Indian National Congress on 12th March in presence of Shri Rahul Gandhi and other senior leaders."
To give shape to my intentions to serve society & country, I have decided to join Indian National Congress on 12th March in presence of Shri Rahul Gandhi & other senior leaders.— Hardik Patel (@HardikPatel_) March 10, 2019
"I would also like to state that if there is no legal hindrance and party decides to field me in electoral politics, I would abide by the party's decision. I am taking this step to serve 125 crore citizens of India," he said in another tweet.
I would also like to state that if there is no legal hindrance and party decides to field me in electoral politics, I would abide by the party’s decision. I am taking this step to serve 125 core citizens of India.— Hardik Patel (@HardikPatel_) March 10, 2019
The Jamnagar Lok Sabha seat is currently represented by Poonamben Madam of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said the decision of the Patidar leader joining Congress was a "design" by the party.
"We have been saying this, and now it has been proved that Hardik Patel is a design of Congress party. His agitation was at the behest of the Congress. He has cheated his community, misled youth. He would get a befitting reply from the Patidar community if he stood for polls," Mr Rupani said.
Hardik Patel had risen to prominence when he led an agitation by the Patidar community in 2015, demanding that the community should get benefits of the quota for backward castes.
He had backed the Congress in the 2017 Gujarat assembly elections in which the party gave a stiff competition to the BJP, winning 81 out of 182 assembly seats.
The Congress eyes the sizable Patidar votes for the upcoming polls to revive the party that had drawn a blank in the Lok Sabha Election 2014.
The BJP had won all 26 Lok Sabha seats in the previous elections.
The Congress Working Committee meet, which was once postponed because of the Pulwama terror attack, will be followed by a rally on March 12.