Congress leader Ahmed Patel's daughter Mumtaz Patel said today that she is open to joining politics and even contesting elections, but that she is in no rush to take the plunge. She also suggested that "major changes" were needed in the Congress, clarifying that she hasn't joined the party of her father yet.
Speaking to NDTV, Mumtaz Patel said she has "no intention" of contesting the upcoming Gujarat assembly election, then amended that statement within moments.
"Politics will be a platform to work with the public. I am looking for the right space and time to get an official entry or role to be able to do that. If the public feels, then I am ready for it, and if they are willing to let me represent them, then of course, I won't say no," Ms Patel said.
"Of course, that will take time. But I am in no rush. I am here to do some good work which my father started. People have a lot of expectations from my family in Bharuch," she said, referring to Ahmed Patel's home turf.
Ahmed Patel, who was Congress president Sonia Gandhi's most trusted aide, died of Covid at 71, two years ago.
Last month, the Gujarat police alleged that the Congress veteran had conspired to implicate then Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 riots, on Sonia Gandhi's bidding.
"Why have these allegations come up now? Why not when my father was alive? It is being used now to target the Congress president," Ms Patel alleged.
Her strong statements, covering a wide range of issues, raised speculation that she is on the verge of joining the Congress and contesting the Gujarat polls.
"At the moment I haven't joined Congress officially," she clarified. "Whatever love I am getting, whatever respect I am getting, whatever expectations people have from me is only because I am his daughter. Would like to live up to that."
There was similar talk of a political debut by her brother Faisal too, until he publicly criticized the Congress.
"There are times he has been upset, low...he has taken our father's death very hard. He has tweeted a few things he should not have," Ms Patel admitted.
Though she is noncommittal about joining the Congress, she did weigh in on criticism directed at the opposition party and its leadership.
"I am going to say this as a concerned citizen, but I feel you need to be connected on the ground. That is where we are lost at some level. I think major changes need to be made. I consider myself youth, I am educated, have opinions, I would like more people like me," Ms Patel commented.
"We need to think of the public. We need to go beyond caste, religion, creed, politics at this level. Right now, it's very murky."
She didn't hold back on her views about the Gandhis' leadership either.
"The Gandhis are the glue that connect the Congress for sure. But there has to be a free run for a lot of people who have the right ideas, the right motives and can make the party stronger," Ms Patel said.