Former Congress leader Hardik Patel formally joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today at a function in Gandhinagar, ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections.
The 28-year-old Patidar leader had quit the Congress party on May 18. Patel was inducted in the BJP at an event in presence of Gujarat BJP chief CR Patil.
Patel’s departure is a major setback for the Congress in this election year, especially after setbacks in five state assembly elections. Gujarat will hold elections later this year. He rose to prominence in 2015 after leading a campaign for Patidar caste quotas in jobs and education. He is regarded as the face of the Patidar community and a staunch BJP supporter.
He was said to have played a key role in the Congress winning 77 seats and limiting the BJP to 99 in the 182-member house in the 2017 Assembly elections. However, the Congress has lost 14 lawmakers to the BJP since then due to defections and defeats in by-elections. In the Gujarat Assembly, the Congress now has 63 legislators.
Patel joined the Congress in the run-up to the Lok Sabha election in March 2019, and was immediately appointed working president for Gujarat.