Hardik Patel quit the Congress today with a resignation letter pummelling Rahul Gandhi, who had brought him into the party in 2019. Top leaders "were distracted by their mobile phones" and the Gujarat Congress leadership was more interested in ensuring "chicken sandwiches" for them, he said in the letter bomb that embarrasses the party just after its revival strategy meeting.
The Gujarat Patidar leader has been in touch with the BJP leadership over the past two months and is likely to join the party within a week, sources say. The BJP leadership wants him on board and, after initial resistance, the party's Gujarat unit has agreed, the sources add.
Days after Rahul Gandhi's Gujarat visit, when a meeting between the two did not materialise, Hardik Patel wrote in his resignation letter: "When I met top leaders, they seemed distracted by their mobile phones and other issues as opposed to listening to issues concerning Gujarat."
He followed that thinly veiled dig with another, blasting Gujarat Congress leaders.
"Senior leaders in Gujarat are more interested in ensuring that visiting leaders get their chicken sandwiches than engaging with people during yatras," said the letter.
Hardik Patel went on, echoing criticism heaped on Rahul Gandhi by critics, including the ruling BJP.
Hardik Patel was working President of the Congress in Gujarat, a post that he said had meant little in his years in the part.
The Congress leadership "strongly dislikes Gujarat and has no interest in the state," he said, adding that the Congress "has been rejected in virtually every state because they have no roadmap to present to the people."
He said the Congress party's politics were restricted to merely opposing everything the government does. He added that the party "came in the way" of resolving key issues like the Citizenship Amendment Act, the Goods and Services Tax, the Ayodhya temple-mosque case and Article 370 (the scrapped constitutional provision that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir).
The Patidar activist joined the Congress in 2019, just before the Lok Sabha election. He was made the Working President of the Congress in Gujarat, a post that he said had meant little in his years in the party.
He had been complaining over the past few weeks about the Gujarat Congress leadership sidelining him and had compared it to the feeling of a "groom being forced into nasbandi (vasectomy)".
Recently, he had also tried to meet with Rahul Gandhi, but despite wide media speculation, that meeting didn't take place.
"He was in Gujarat recently, but I think he was very busy. He will get back to me once he is free, "Hardik Patel told NDTV last week.
On Rahul Gandhi's not meeting him personally during his visit, he said there was no time as he had to wrap up a lot of meetings with community leaders within five to six hours. "I have no godfather in Delhi who can help me. I have to work on my own merit," he said.