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Arvind Kejriwal Hits Gujarat Again

NEW DELHI: Arvind Kejriwal’s plans for next year’s Gujarat elections include roping in the headline-making 23-year-old activist Hardik Patel in his bid to beat ruling party BJP in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state. Sources said leaders of Mr Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party have been in touch with Hardik Patel, the face of a massive Patel or Patidar agitation in Gujarat for reservation in government jobs and colleges. Hardik Patel, they claimed, has agreed to support Mr Kejriwal and a formal announcement is expected soon. “Just like any other political party we are in touch with local leaders who want to work for the people. We have approached Hardik and he has assured all support to AAP,” said a top party leader. Mr Patel is in Udaipur in neighbouring Rajasthan since he was granted bail in July this year by court on the condition that he will stay away from Gujarat for six months. That deadline ends only in January and he will not share stage with the Delhi chief minister when he addresses a rally next Sunday in Surat, which has a sizeable Patel population. But other Patidar leaders from the Hardik-led agitation, like Vandana Patel, will be present at the rally, sources said. Hardik Patel was arrested in October last year on charges of sedition, in what was seen as a ill-advised move by the BJP government, and spent eight months in jail, before the court freed him, giving him 48 hours to leave Gujarat.Patels, influential voters in the state, have been long-time BJP supporters, but Hardik Patel has vowed to ensure the party’s defeat after over two decades of rule, accusing it of betraying his community. At a recent public meeting addressed by BJP chief Amit Shah, Hardik’s supporters went on the rampage, chanting his name and throwing furniture. On his release Hardik said he had an array of political offers from rivals of the BJP. At that time he had told that he was “just looking,” He has been known to praise the work done by Mr Kejriwal in Delhi, which the AAP swept in assembly elections last year. Mr Kejriwal leaves for Gujarat tomorrow on a three day tour.

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