AHMEDABAD: Patidar leader Hardik Patel reportedly met Congress leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, for about 40 minutes at The Ummed hotel in the city on Monday, triggering speculation that the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convener might join a “broader” anti-BJP alliance. On the same day, OBC leader Alpesh Thakor+ joined the Congress at a rally in Gandhinagar.
The “secret” meeting reportedly took place after Hardik had claimed that he would not be able to meet the Gandhi scion on Monday morning as he would be at a public function in Mandal town, 87km from Ahmedabad. Hardik reached Mandal around 7.30pm on Monday to address the meeting and apologized for the delay.
Five CCTV clips, recorded between 11.53pm on Sunday night and 4.14pm on Monday, showed Hardik entering and leaving the hotel. Gandhi was at The Ummed from Monday morning, while AICC member in-charge of Gujarat, Ashok Gehlot, had been holding meetings there since late Sunday evening.Sources confirmed that Rahul met Hardik at the hotel along with Nikhil Savani, the PAAS co-convener who quit the BJP on Monday+ , Alpesh, Gehlot and Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki.
After the CCTV footage surfaced, Hardik said he had met Congress leaders but denied having met Rahul on Monday. “I have not met Rahul Gandhi, but I met Ashok Gehlot and Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki to discuss the issues affecting the Patidar community, including OBC quota,” the 24-year-old said.