- Hardik Patel's plea to stay conviction in 2015 rioting case was rejected
- He blamed the BJP for him not being able to contest polls
- "We will not get scared. Congress will form government": Hardik Patel
In what comes as a huge setback for the Congress, Patidar leader Hardik Patel may not be able to contest the national elections as the Gujarat High Court today rejected his plea to put a stay on his conviction in a 2015 rioting case. Under the Representation of the People Act, a convicted person cannot contest elections unless the conviction is stayed.
With April 4 being the last date of filing of nominations in Gujarat, Hardik Patel has a few days to challenge the judgement in the Supreme Court.
Hardik Patel, 25, blamed the BJP for him not being able to contest polls, and said he will campaign for the Congress - the party he joined earlier this month - across the country.
"We will not get scared. We will keep raising the concerns of the common man with truth, non-violence and honesty. Will ensure the Congress forms a government. For the party, I will campaign in Gujarat and across the country. My only fault is I did not bow down before the BJP. This is the result of fighting the government," he was quoted by news agency ANI as saying.
In July last year, Hardik Patel was sentenced to two years' imprisonment for rioting and arson in Gujarat's Visnagar town during the 2015 Patidar quota agitation. He was granted bail and his sentence was suspended in August 2018 by the high court, but his conviction was not stayed.
The Patidar leader had moved the High Court on March 8 for a stay on his conviction, which was yesterday opposed by the BJP-led Gujarat government.
Hardik Patel had joined the Congress two weeks ago in the presence of party president Rahul Gandhi in Ahmedabad. He had also made his intention to contest Lok Sabha elections from Gujarat's Jamnagar constituency clear earlier this month. The Jamnagar Lok Sabha seat is currently represented by Poonamben Maadam of the BJP.
Hardik Patel had risen to prominence when he led an agitation by the Patidar community in 2015, demanding that the community should get benefits of the quota for backward castes.
He had backed the Congress in the 2017 Gujarat assembly elections in which the party gave a stiff competition to the BJP, winning 81 out of 182 assembly seats.
The Congress is eyeing the sizable Patidar votes for the upcoming polls to revive the party that had drawn a blank in the Lok sabha Election 2014.
The BJP had won all 26 Lok Sabha seats in the previous elections.
With inputs from agencies