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Jignesh Mevani blasts Hardik for ‘ungraceful’ exit from Congress

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Ahmedabad, May 20: Gujarat Independent MLA Jignesh Mevani on Friday hit out at Patidar community leader Hardik Patel for his "below the belt" comments against Congress leadership and leaving the party in an "ungraceful" manner.

Jignesh Mevani

Mevani targeted Patel two days after the latter resigned from the Congress and launched a no-holds-barred attack on the functioning of the opposition party in Gujarat, where polls are due by the year-end.

The Independent MLA, who won from Vadgam in Banaskantha district in 2017 with Congress support, said Patel had direct access to the top leadership of the Sonia Gandhi-led party, which is a rare thing in India's oldest political outfit.

Mevani was addressing a press conference at the Congress office in the city thought he has not joined the party officially.

"If you had a problem with the Congress party you could have left in a dignified manner. But you chose to speak the language of the BJP as if your letter (resignation letter) had come from the BJP office," Mevani said.

Earlier, Gujarat OBC leader Alpesh Thakor had also left the Congress but he did not make any wild allegations against the party and quit in a dignified manner, he said.

"Your comments were below the belt. What was the need to bring up chicken sandwiches in the discussion, is this a matter of discussion?" he said, referring to Hardik Patel's attack on top Congress leadership.

While resigning, Patel had claimed top leaders of the Congress were distracted by their mobile phones and party functionaries in Gujarat were more interested in arranging chicken sandwiches for them.

"It is absolutely wrong to say that leaders of the Congress are anti-Gujarat. Party workers, despite not being in power for the last 27 years, are working for the people of Gujarat," he said.

"Rahul Gandhi brought you (Patel) to the party. He gave you prominence, he gave you helicopters to campaign as star campaigners in elections of different states. He gave you love and what you did to him?" he asked.

The Dalit leader said Patel was made a working president of the Gujarat Congress just over a year after joining the party and he was close to its top leaders.

"Big leaders of the party do not have direct access to Rahul Gandhi which is the fact and everybody knows it. I do not have direct access to him. But you had direct access to him," Mevani said about Patel.

"At the young age of 26-27 you were made a working president of the state unit of the party. You may leave the party, we do not have any problem, but tell us how overnight you are showing love and respect for Adani and Ambani (industrialists)?" he asked.

The Independent legislator disapproved of the language used by the Patidar quota agitation spearhead against the Congress leadership.

"You may be facing difficulty because you have more than 32 cases against you, but for that to personally target top Congress leadership is below dignity," he said.

"My experience has been totally different. When I was arrested by the Assam police recently, my team approached Rahul Gandhi and he woke up in the middle of the night and instructed everybody to stand with Mevani. That was the reason the entire party stood behind me," he said.

Mevani was arrested by the Assam police in April in the middle of night in connection with a case registered against him in the north-eastern state.

Patel, Thakor and Mevani became prominent public figures before the 2017 state assembly elections due to their activism on various issues.

Hardik Patel had spearheaded the Patidar quota agitation in 2015, while Thakor led an agitation against inclusion of the Patidar community in OBC list for quota in jobs and education.

At the same time Mevani had led a movement for Dalit rights. All the three were wooed by the Congress party. Thakor joined the Congress, but resigned in 2019.

In his resignation letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Patel had accused the party's top leadership of behaving as if they "hated" Gujarat and Gujarati.

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