Ahead of by-elections to eight assembly seats in Gujarat, the Congress on Saturday appointed Patidar leader Hardik Patel as working president of the party's state unit.
The move, which is being seen as an attempt to clip the wings of Gujarat Congress president Amit Chavda, has come as a surprise to many within the party. Albeit, there are none wanting to comment on record.
Patel, only 26, had spearheaded the Patidar quota stir, which had large-scale implications, both at political and policy level, in Gujarat.
Chavda had failed to keep the party's MLAs together, as a result of which eight MLAs quit before the recently concluded Rajya Sabha elections. Due to the resignations, Congress' candidate Bharatsinh Solanki lost the elections.
Patel's appointment was approved by Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
The firebrand Patidar leader had joined the grand old party ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in the presence of the then Congress president Rahul Gandhi at a rally in Gujarat.
Talking to a section of media, Patel alleged that the BJP “purchases” MLAs. He claimed that the Congress would win all the eight seats in the by-elections.
The Congress' attempt to lure the Patidar voters in the assembly by-elections and the civic elections—due later this year—might, however, backfire as the appointment in all certainty will not go down well with the rank and file of the party.
Not only is Patel too young to occupy the post, he is still considered as a rank outsider.
A vocal critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Patel is facing several cases, including sedition. Owing to the cases against him, he could not contest Lok Sabha elections in 2019.