Dalit leader and Independent MLA from Vadgam, Jignesh Mevani, came down hard on Patidar leader and former working president of the Congress, Hardik Patel, on Friday, saying that everyone has the right to switch parties, but one should quit with decency and not by hitting below the belt.
Hardik Patel, who had joined the Congress a little over three years ago, quit the party on Wednesday, and there are speculations that he might join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and contest the state elections scheduled later this year.
Mevani, who had pledged outside support to the Congress earlier, said that Hardik Patel had no right to level allegations against the Congress or its national leadership.
"The Congress made him the working president, perhaps the youngest ever, the party made him a star campaigner, he was flying in choppers to campaign, he had direct access to the national leadership... What more a party could give to a person," Mevani asked.
He also argued that if a leader's one demand is not met, it does not mean he should quit the party.
"He is just in his late 20s, and there's a long journey ahead of him. He must have quit the party under some pressure... Some 30-plus criminal cases are lodged against him, and it would not have been easy for him to withstand the pressure him," Mevani said.
The Dalit leader reminded Patel that the ruling party has not obliged either the Patidars or the socially and economically backward sections, because 14 Patidar youth sacrificed their lives, women were subject to police atrocity, Patidars' vehicles were targeted etc.
Mevani also expressed surprise for the way Patel made a personal attack on Rahul Gandhi.
In his resignation letter, Patel had taken dig at Rahul Gandhi, who did not meet with him separately during his recent visit to Gujarat.
"Senior leaders in Gujarat are more interested in ensuring that visiting leaders get their chicken sandwich than engaging with people during yatras," Patel had said.
"The attack was too personal and that too against a person who believes in promoting the youth. Rahul Gandhi gave a lot of respect and love to Hardik Patel. What Hardik did was like hitting below the belt... It is clear that Hardik did what he did under some influence," Mewani said.
Citing Alpesh Thakor quitting the Congress, Mevani said, "Alpesh left the party gracefully... He did not hit below the belt like Hardik. Hardik had himself destroyed all bridges of communication and dialogue."
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