Rubbishing speculations of him joining the BJP, Gujarat Congress working president Hardik Patel today said rumours are part of politics and his complaints about the affairs of the party in the state are regular internal issues which he hopes would be resolved soon to give the party a much-needed boost as it prepares for the upcoming assembly elections. Naming Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and Sonia Gandhi, he said he does not have any issues with them and what’s most important is that the party give responsibility, without favouritism, to leaders who are true to the people and want to work on the ground.
“We are different kinds of politicians because we don’t come from political families. We have worked hard and made an identity for ourselves in Gujarat. We don’t want to pressurise the leadership before elections to get a lucrative post,” he told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
What’s important is that you give me some clearly defined responsibility, the fiery young leader said, stressing that people have a lot of expectations as it has been two years since his joining the party and the assembly elections are just six months away.
“I have travelled among the people and tried to understand their hopes and aspirations. I have travelled to 8,000 villages,” Mr Patel said as he made his case for a clearly defined leadership role.
Pointing out that the Congress has for the first time since 1990 won more than 80 seats in the state, he suggested that his joining the party at a time when not many were, and consolidating “lakhs of Patel voters” contributed to Congress having a strong opposition presence in the state.
“If you have made me the working president then you should also clearly define the responsibilities as you have done in all other states. It has been two years, why can’t you set my responsibilities? They have not organised even one big press conference with me in the state yet,” he said, frustrated by the ambiguity attached to his post.
Mr Patel said Rahul Gandhi had messaged him around 15 days back asking what the issue was, and that he freely shared it with him. However, there was no response from the high command. “He was in Gujarat recently but I think he was very busy. He will get back to me once he is free,” Hardik Patel said.
On Rahul Gandhi not meeting him personally during his Gujarat visit, a defensive Mr Patel said there was no time as he had to wrap up a lot of meetings with community leaders within five to six hours.
“I have no godfather in Delhi who can help me, I have to work on my own merit,” he said.
Mr Patel also expressed a lot of hope in the party’s upcoming “Chintan Shivir” in Rajasthan’s Udaipur saying a lot of fresh ideas and clarity are expected from the brainstorming session which would also address the Gujarat conundrum.
On the BJP-led state government withdrawing cases against him, he said it’s just politics as usual keeping the elections in mind. He said his community is very strong in Gujarat and the BJP government has withdrawn hundreds of cases and not just his.