The Sunday Guardian - - The Big Story - CON­TIN­UED FROM P1

lence against the Dal­its in the state.

“Peo­ple in the Congress are hold­ing talks with him on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. The re­sponse is pos­i­tive. We are hope­ful of some­thing fruit­ful from our meet­ings with him,” sources told this re­porter.

Me­wani was in the fore­front of the ag­i­ta­tion against the flog­ging of a Dalit man in Una last year. He was on Wed­nes­day de­tained by the po­lice when he was protest­ing against al­leged atroc­i­ties on Dal­its, in front of the state sec­re­tariat in Gand­hi­na­gar.

The Congress hopes that if Me­wani in­ten­si­fies his protests, while declar­ing sup­port for the Congress, the party could make “law and or­der” an is­sue in the polls. The sources said, Congress is also bank­ing on Hardik Pa­tel to make a dent in the BJP’s Pa­tel votes. The Pa­tels have never been an ar­dent sup­porter of the grand old party. But the Congress high com­mand is of the view that the BJP is in the back foot due to con­tin­ued Pati­dar ag­i­ta­tion and if Hardik lends it sup­port, the party can make a se­ri­ous bid at power, cour­tesy the Pati­dar votes.

“It can make a big dif­fer­ence. The Congress has sent feel­ers to Hardik Pa­tel. If he sup­ports us or joins us, we will have a strong shot at power in De­cem­ber when the state votes,” claimed a Congress source.

When asked about the over­all strat­egy of the party in Gu­jarat, a source in the Congress con­firmed that the party may adopt a very covert Hin­dutva line to counter the ma­jor­ity com­mu­nity’s con­sol­i­da­tion be­hind the BJP as was seen in Ut­tar Pradesh.

“Rahul Gandhi’s much pub­li­cised tem­ple visit was part of the over­all strat­egy to send out ‘ cer­tain feel­ers’ to the ma­jor­ity com­mu­nity, silently. The party may de­velop this strat­egy fur­ther,” the source ex­plained.

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