After Narendra Modi's offensive in Gujarat, Rahul Gandhi begins 3-day visit to state, may meet Hardik Patel

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will be visiting poll-bound Gujarat on Monday to attend the Navsarjan Janadesh Mahasammelan rally. All eyes are trained on the Congress vice-president a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacked the UPA government of an 'anti-Gujarat, anti-development attitude' in his address at a public meeting in Bhavnagar after inaugurating a slew of projects.

After Narendra Modis offensive in Gujarat, Rahul Gandhi begins 3-day visit to state, may meet Hardik Patel

File image of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. PTI

Rahul is expected to meet OBC leader Alpesh Thakor who announced he was joining the Congress on Saturday. Thakor had announced his move in New Delhi after an evening meeting with Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, and Rahul. Thakor and his supporters are expected to formally join the party at the rally in Gandhinagar.

Congress had also extended an invitation to the Patidar agitation leader Hardik Patel and dalit leader Jignesh Mewani to join the party. It has invited the two leaders to meet Gandhi on Monday in Ahmedabad. The party is trying to woo leaders such as Patel, Mevani and Thakor who have significant support base in their respective communities.

"Rahul Gandhi will be coming to Ahmedabad on Monday. We have invited Hardik Patel and other leaders of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti. They had given a memorandum to us and we are positive about their demands," said Bharat Singh Solanki, president, Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee, on Sunday.

Rahul is also likely to meet Chotu Vasava, the leader of Janata Dal (U) in Gujarat, during his one-day visit.

In what could be a boost for Congress, one of Hardik Patel's aides, Nikhil Sawani quit the BJP on Monday because "they (BJP) are just offering lollipop, fulfilling nothing". He also added he would seek an appointment with Rahul and put forward his viewpoint, reported ANI. 

As per other reports on Monday, Narendra Patel, a Patidar leader from north Gujarat alleged the BJP tried to bribe him with Rs one crore. Patel, incidentally, had 'joined' the BJP just a couple of hours earlier before he made the allegations, and was welcomed with a saffron scarf in front of media cameras.

According to India TodayCongress is keen to play the "youth card" in the upcoming Assembly elections in the state. Solanki said, "Fresh young candidates will be given more preference during ticket distribution by the party."

In this case, Rahul's agenda would be to talk about providing employment for the youth, female education, free speech, demonetisation, GST, topics which he has discussed in his earlier visits as well. The Congress scion had struck a chord with the youth at a question-answer session in Vadodara city during one of his visits, where he was asked everything from what would the Congress party do for the youth, free speech, attack on BHU girl students and privatisation of education.

Rahul's visit to Gujarat assumes high importance in the light of the Election Commission announcing the poll dates any time soon. Once the EC does so, the model code of conduct will be enforced immediately.

Congress has not been in power in the state for the last 22 years. Rahul's image transformation in terms of his marked attacks at the BJP and Centre and, his increased involvement on social media seem to be efforts to project him as a serious leader, who is not just the "butt of public ridicule". In what is being seen as an aggressive fight between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress, reflective of what could happen in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Rahul and company seem to be pulling out all stops to end BJP's rule in the state.

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Updated Date: Nov 24, 2017 16:48:53 IST

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