Gandhinagar | Jagran Politics Desk: The Gujarat Congress on Wednesday reached out to Hardik Patel and invited him for talks to resolve differences after he openly criticised the state party leadership while praising the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Speaking to reporters, GPCC chief Jagdish Thakor asked Hardik to meet him and discuss the matter, saying dialogue is the "best way to resolve differences".

"Hardik (Patel) tweeted yesterday. As soon as I learnt about his tweet, I called him immediately and said, 'we came to know about your grievances from the media. Let us sit down and talk about whatever complaints you have'," Thakor was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

"I called him last week, and again yesterday. Last time he said he was busy with the death anniversary of his father. Later, he said he was in Surat, and he will meet as soon as he is free," he said.

Hardik's open criticism of Congress has sparked a buzz in Gujarat that he might join the ruling BJP ahead of the crucial assembly elections in the state slated to be held later this year. On Monday, he openly said he is 'upset' with the state Congress leadership, but not with Rahul Gandhi or Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

A day later, the 28-year-old Gujarat Congress Working President refuted reports of him joining the BJP. "I am in Congress currently. I hope the central leaders find a way so that I continue to remain in the Congress. There are others who want Hardik to leave the Congress. They want to break my moral," he had tweeted.

Why is Hardik angry with Congress?

Hardik joined Congress ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Later, he was made the working president of the party's state unit. However, Hardik is not happy with Congress' state unit due to its 'functioning style'.

He is also irked with Congress' plan to rope in influential Patidar leader Naresh Patel, who heads Shree Khodaldham Temple Trust, into the party ahead of the Gujarat assembly elections 2022.

Although Naresh has not joined Congress, there have been speculations that he will join the grand old party soon.

"I am being harassed so much that I feel bad about it. Gujarat Congress leaders want me to leave the party... I am more pained because I have conveyed the situation to Rahul Gandhi many times, but no action has been taken," Hardik had told news agency PTI.

"You used Hardik in 2017, you want to use Naresh Bhai in 2022 and in 2027 you would use another Patidar leader. Why don't you support and strengthen Hardik?," he had asked.

Why Hardik Patel is crucial for Congress?

Caste politics always play an important role in India. Hardik is the convener of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS). The community has been a staunch supporter of the BJP but was against the state government in 2017 over its demand for reservations in Gujarat.

In 2017, Hardik - though he was not a member of Congress - played a key role in the polls, helping the party win 77 seats and restrict the BJP to 99 in the 182-member Gujarat legislative assembly.

If he switches sides with the BJP, then it would be a massive jolt for Congress, which is virtually on the brink of annihilation after its disastrous performance in assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur, and Goa.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma