CONGRESS TALKING TO HARDIK, JIGNESH FOR SUPPORT IN GUJARAT
The Congress has started back-channel talks with both Hardik Patel, the face of the Patidar reservation agitation, and Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani in poll bound Gujarat, where the grand old party may be locked in a two-way contest with the BJP, which has been ruling the coastal state since 1998.
Sources told this reporter that the Congress has been sending emissaries to both Hardik and Mewani and the responses have been “satisfactory so far”. The sources also said that the grand old party, which in July saw rebellion by senior leader Shankersinh Vaghela and MLAs loyal to him, may settle for a “soft Hindutva” angle in the polls that are likely to be scheduled for December.
“Talks are on with Hardik Patel. Shabnam Hashmi, who is considered close to Sonia Gandhi, too held a meeting with Hardik. If all goes well, Hardik may support the Congress, although nothing can be asserted now. If he supports the Congress, we will benefit hugely,” a top source in the Congress told this newspaper. Shabnam Hashmi is a social activist and human rights campaigner, who was in the news in June for returning her National Minority Rights Award to protest the mob lynching of Junaid, who was stabbed to death on a train in Ballabhgarh the same month.
The sources further confirmed the Congress’ overtures to Jignesh Mewani, saying a few leaders are in touch with the Dalit leader to get him to support the Congress and raise the pitch against cases of alleged vio-