With Hardik Patel quitting the Congress, the party leaders in Gujarat on Wednesday launched an attack on him, labelling him as "dishonest" and an "opportunist", and also accused him of being in touch with the ruling BJP for the last six years to ensure withdrawal of cases registered against him during the Patidar quota stir.
Mr Patel, who had joined the Congress three years ago, on Wednesday resigned from the party, accusing its top leadership of behaving as if they hated Gujarat and Gujaratis. In his resignation letter to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, which comes ahead of this year's state Assembly polls, Patel (28) said he was quitting as the Gujarat Congress working president and from the party's primary membership.
Targeting him over the move, senior Congress leader from Gujarat and party's national spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil accused Mr Patel of betraying his Patidar community for personal gains, while state Congress in-charge Raghu Sharma accused him of indulging in "back door dealings" with other parties and also claimed that he lacked discipline.
Talking to reporters, Mr Sharma said, "Hardik indulged in politics of dishonesty and cheating. Congress made him a star campaigner during the assembly polls to five states. He used to criticise BJP in his speeches. What has changed suddenly? He was in touch with BJP for the last six years to withdraw the cases against him." Although Patel was made the working president of Gujarat Congress, he wanted total control of the entire state party unit, Sharma alleged.
"Hardik was upset because there were reports that Patidar leader Naresh Patel is joining Congress. Hardik thought that Naresh Patel would take his space. I have observed that Hardik lacks the discipline to be in any political system. If you have your own personal agendas, you can't survive in any system," Mr Sharma said.
"For some time, he was trying to put pressure on the party. He wanted us not to take Naresh Patel into the party and listen to him only. He used to try to remain close to Rahul Gandhi once to gain political ground. Now, he is criticising the leadership. It shows that he is an opportunist," he added.
Talking to reporters in Delhi, Mr Gohil said, "When a lower court rejected the Gujarat government's plea for the withdrawal of a rioting case against Hardik, the state government approached the higher court. This proved that Hardik was in touch with the BJP to withdraw cases against him."
Hardik Patel indulged in some backdoor dealings with the BJP, Mr Gohil said and predicted that Hardik would join the BJP in near future.
"When you started the Patidar quota agitation, you had put forward several demands for the community. How many demands were fulfilled by the government? So for what sort of personal gains you are betraying your community and going there (BJP)," asked the Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat.
Mr Gohil also said that what Mr Patel has written in his letter to Sonia Gandhi was dictated to him by the BJP.
In his letter to the Congress president, Mr Patel alleged that the Congress and its leadership, both at the central and state levels, have been merely reduced to opposing everything. "Be it the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, revocation of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, the implementation of GST, India wanted a solution to these issues for a long time and the Congress only played the role of a roadblock," he said.
Mr Patel had gained prominence in 2015 after he led the agitation seeking reservation for the Patidar community in the state. After joining the party thee years ago, Mr Patel was made the Gujarat Congress working president in July 2020.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)