Republic TV has got the first confirmation that Patidar leader Hardik Patel will contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Patel made the announcement on being asked a direct question on the topic following a rally in Lucknow.
In his remarks, Hardik Patel made clear which side of the political divide he would be joining, speaking about how Mamata Banerjee has sparked the battle to save the Constitution, to remove the BJP, and to save the country from West Bengal.
It is most likely that Hardik Patel will contest from the Amreli seat in Gujarat's Saurashtra region. Additionally, he is also in talks with the Congress party about having the same arrangement that Jignesh Mevani had while contesting the Vadgam assembly seat in the Gujarat assembly election, where the Congress refrained from fielding a candidate. Mevani won his election.
However, he is also having meetings with Paresh Dhanani who also hails from Amreli and has worked out his Lok Sabha strategy.
Hardik Patel had shot to prominence almost overnight in 2015 as a firebrand convenor of the PAAS (Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti) which was at that time demanding reservation in government jobs and education for members of the Patidar community. In the months of June-August 2015, he held a number of demonstrations and gatherings to emphasise his demand, launching him into the public conscience while he was barely in his twenties. Towards the end of 2015, Hardik Patel had faced jail time over a sedition case, only being let out on bail in the middle of 2016.
While he didn't contest the 2017 Gujarat elections himself, he backed the Congress in its campaign along with fellow young leaders Jignesh Mevani and Alpesh Thakor, both of whom also contested for assembly seats and won, Thakor on a Congress ticket. At this time, the Congress had been accused of 'outsourcing its leadership' to the three youths. Despite their aid, the Rahul Gandhi-led party ended up losing the elections despite there being 16 years of anti-incumbency against the BJP in the state.
Since then, Hardik Patel had been non-committal about his political allegiances, even distancing himself from statements made by Jignesh Mevani while speaking to Republic TV's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami in an exclusive episode of Nation Wants To Know on Republic TV.