"This agitation is being used not for the interest of society but for personal ambition," said Mr Patel soon after he was welcomed to the party by Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel. Chirag is the third prominent leader, once considered close to Hardik Patel, to have joined the BJP in the last three weeks. Last month, Hardik Patel's associates, Varun and Reshma Patel, had also joined the BJP.
Chirag Patel was among the founder members of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, or PAAS, anchored by 24-year-old Hardik Patel who became its public face. He was also among those jailed, and then charged with sedition along with Hardik Patel for the largescale violence after a massive rally in Ahmedabad in August 2015.
Reportedly angry after being sidelined by the organization, Chirag Patel and Ketan Patel had last year gone public with their accusations against Hardik, claiming that he had used the movement to amass wealth. They were expelled soon after.
It is not clear if Chirag Patel will be fielded by the BJP in next month's assembly elections. He had contested the 2012 elections against former Chief Minister Anandiben Patel from Keshubhai Patel's Gujarat Parivartan Party.
Hardik Patel, however, has made it his mission to remove the BJP, blaming the ruling BJP for denying quota benefits to the Patels and the alleged excesses on Patel youth who participated in their 2015 agitation. He hasn't formally supported the Congress but he told NDTV that he was campaigning against the BJP and people were smart enough to know who to support.
Chirag Patel said the Congress had diverted the agitation in their favour by using Hardik, who only wants to satisfy his personal ambitions. "After the sex CDs of Hardik have emerged, it is not possible for me to remain silent. This entire episode is a blot on the community," he said.
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