Patidar leader Hardik Patel, who shot to fame by spearheading a quota stir in Gujarat, today joined the Congress in the presence of Rahul Gandhi during the party's Working Committee meet in Ahmedabad.
"Mahatma Gandhi started Dandi March this day and said he (Mahatma Gandhi) will overthrow the British. I am joining the same Congress party which, in the past, has been led by Subhash Chandra Bose, Pandit Nehru, Sardar Patel, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, the people who worked to strengthen our country," Hardik Patel said.
Mr Patel, 25, had last week made his intention to contest Lok Sabha elections from Gujarat's Jamnagar constituency. The Jamnagar Lok Sabha seat is currently represented by Poonamben Maadam of the BJP.
Justifying his decision to enter active politics ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, Hardik Patel said he could now work for the six crore people of Gujarat in a better way.
Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mr Patel said when the Congress decided to postpone its rally, earlier scheduled for February 28, following the terror attack in Pulwama last month, the PM was busy addressing gatherings across the country.
The Patidar leader praised Rahul Gandhi, saying the Congress president is "honest".
"People ask me why I chose the Congress and Rahul Gandhi. I chose Rahul Gandhi because he is honest. He does not believe in working like a dictator," he said.
On the BJP's charge of dynastic politics in the Congress, Mr Patel said there was nothing wrong if a politician's son wanted to be join the same field to serve people.
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 PTI