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The Hindu
The Hindu
Mahesh Langa

Patidar leader Naresh Patel to decide on joining politics soon

Naresh Patel, a prominent Patidar community leader in Gujarat, on Wednesday said his decision on whether to join politics would be announced by the end of the month, and that poll strategist Prashant Kishor would “stand by him”, irrespective of Mr. Kishor’s decision to not join the Congress party

It was earlier being speculated that Mr. Patel, who wields considerable influence over the Leuva Patidar community in the politically important Saurashtra region, will join the Congress party along with Mr. Kishor.

Mr. Kishor should, Mr. Patel had reportedly insisted, handle the campaign for the next Assembly polls in the State. 

However, on Tuesday, the Congress party announced that Mr. Kishor had declined to join the party. He was invited by party chief Sonia Gandhi to do so. On his part, Mr. Kishor has also said that the party needed “deep structural reforms”. 

On Wednesday, Mr. Patel after a meeting of the trustees of the Shri Khodaldham Trust (SKT), a socio-cultural community group of Patidars, said that his decision on whether to join the active politics was independent of Mr. Kishor’s decision to not join the Congress party. 

“As I repeatedly said, Prashant Kishor is my old friend and we have been meeting frequently. The decision he made yesterday is his personal and professional decision on which I can’t comment. However, I am fully hopeful that he will stand by me, should I join active politics,” Mr. Patel told media persons in Rajkot. 

Mr. Patel added that his decision would be announced soon, and by mid-May, “everything will be clear”. 

On Mr. Kishor, Mr. Patel added that he [Mr. Kishor] had decided to not join the Congress but he had not said that he would not talk about politics or would not make political moves or take on political work. Mr. Kishor is associated with several parties in different States. 

Sources close to Mr. Patel said Mr. Kishor may be roped in to handle the campaign if Mr. Patel joined any party in Gujarat. 

Earlier, Mr. Kishor was reportedly pushing the Congress to induct the influential Patidar leader into the party.  Just a day before talks between the Congress and Mr. Kishor collapsed, Mr. Patel had met Mr. Kishor in Delhi, apparently to discuss Mr. Patel’s entry into the party. 

Though Mr. Patel has so far not said categorically that he will join the Congress party, he has indicated that he may become the party’s face in the Saurashtra region, where more than two dozen Assembly seats are dominated by Patidars. 

On being asked about timeline of his decision to join politics, Mr. Patel said, “a survey is being conducted regarding this” and he would take a call “once it’s completed”.  He also said that some trustees of the SKT and other community leaders were opposed to his entering politics while Patidar youth overwhelmingly supported the idea. 

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