Coming mass leader Hardik Patel will not invite Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal over to a rally marking his return to Gujarat state politics on Jan 28, he said during an interview given to The Indian Express.
The charismatic 23-year old leader brought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat to a virtual standstill last year, as he mobilised the Patidar community in their demand for reservation in government jobs and educational institutions.
Modi has ruled Gujarat as chief minister three times from 2002 through 2014, before being elected as the Prime Minister.
Patel was sent into political exile from Gujarat in July by the court for six months after a case of sedition was lodged against him. His supporters saw the sedition charges against him as a political conspiracy aimed at breaking the momentum his movement had gained.
Now, that exile ends on Jan 17.
Patel has reportedly asked another regional leader and a political rival of Modi, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, to speak at his ‘Kisan Sammelan’ meeting on Jan 28 in Botak in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat.
However, his reluctance to invite Kejriwal, also a critic of Modi, raises questions if the 23-year old is planning to play any direct role in the 2017 election in Gujarat that may affect it’s outcome in some way.
Kejriwal’s political outfit, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), recently announced that it would contest the Gujarat polls next year, and has started to organise meetings in the western Indian state, known to have politically quite conservative population.
Patel didn’t go into the reason behind not seeking support from the Delhi CM. Not revealing much about his future plans, Patel just dubbed the next year’s Gujarat poll as the ‘final’.
He said during the IE interview that he intended on mobilising various communities including Patels, Marathas, Dalits, Gujjars and Muslims among others to a political end.
According to a media commentary, Patel’s partnership with a leader like Nitish Kumar and his advocacy for reservations for different communities hinted that he may be headed down a socialist path in politics.