After pursuing KHAM for more than three decades, the Congress in Gujarat has made a change in its focus and now plans to woo the Patel community into the party-fold.
As per the change of strategy, the party has appointed Hardik Patel, leader of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), as working president.
Hardik Patel thanked the party for his appointment, here on Sunday, and said he had been given the opportunity despite being from a humble background.
"As the working president of the Gujarat Congress, I have been given a challenging responsibility. It also shows the party promotes people with humble background," he said.
"I pay my gratitude to Sonia Gandhiji and Rahul Gandhiji and the Congress. Will fight to save democracy and the Constitution. All issues related to Gujarat will be given priority and in 2022 the Congress will come back to power with two-thirds majority," Patel tweeted.
The tactical shift towards the Patel community could be attributed to failure of the pro-KHAM (Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi and Muslim) stand, piloted by then Chief Minister Madhav Singh Solanki, to yield the desired political result. They party failed to return to power as the Patels, who account for 12-14 per cent of votes, sided with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
In the last Assembly elections, the Congress fought with zeal and help of three youngsters -- Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakore and Jignesh Mevani. Thakore later joined the BJP, but lost his seat in the by-election.
While the BJP has put at the helm Vijay Rupani, a non-Patel leader, the PAAS agitation for reservation for Patels didn't earn much votes for the Congress.
The Congress tally in the House increased, the BJP swept Surat, the epicentre of the agitation.
The change in strategy may also have hassled many Congress stalwarts, like Ahmed Patel who is from Bharuch, Bharat Singh Solanki from Anand and Arjun Modwadia from Porbandar.
To get along with them is a challenging task for Hardik Patel.
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