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Influenced by the group and stopped by the old guard, Hardik Patel says the final call to the future after meeting Rahul Gandhi. MIGMG News

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The serving president of the Gujarat Congress Hardik Patel appeared in the news recently for his ‘fight’ with the party after claiming he was sidelined ahead of elections in the state this year, prompting Rahul Gandhi to step in and appease the Patidar leader. While Patel dropped the possibility of collaborating with the BJP, in an exclusive interview with CNN-News18, he pointed out the flaws of the big old party and discussed the party’s chances of victory in Gujarat amid the AAP surge.

Edited excerpts:

What’s that hide-and-seek you’re playing with your party? Luka Chuppi ka kya khel chal raha hai?

There is no hide and seek at play. It is normal for such discussions to take place at parties and family. Anger and sympathy are part of the family. So there is no such hiding and seeking. However, it is clear that when rumors spread, people make it a game of hide and seek.

Toh yahaan pe naraaz kaun hai aur kisko manaya ja raha hai? [So who’s angry here and who’s being placated?]

See, if there is a party, there are people with different opinions who put their views differently. Elections will be held in Gujarat in the next six months. We discuss our party’s strategy, campaign systems, how to contest elections, and how to reach the people and meet their expectations. Obviously 4-5 leaders remain present during the deliberations and they all have different points of view so some people feel they are not being listened to. And that’s all there is to it. I believe that in the coming days in Gujarat, you will fight a new battle by staying united for the benefit of the people of the state and we will fulfill their expectations.

Issi baat-cheet ke liye to aapko ‘Chintan Shivir’ mein bulaya gaya tha. Aap gaye kyun nahi Udaipur? [It was for these deliberations that you were called to the ‘Chintan Shivir’. Why didn’t you go to Udaipur?]

Listen, I have a public program on Thursday and another on Friday. These programs have been scheduled for a long time. I will arrive in Udaipur on Saturday. I was about to go there on Friday itself but it’s late now.

Toh aap ab ‘Chintan Shivir’ jaa rahe hain aur attending karenge Udaipur mein? [So you are going to Udaipur to attend the ‘Chintan Shivir’ now?]

definitely. The party’s ‘Chintin Shivir’ party will discuss what we can do for the country in the coming days and how we can strengthen the congressional structure. Obviously, we also want to strengthen the party structure and people’s expectations of us. We all know that hope must appear throughout the country, and if we act on those hopes, we will surely get the love and support of the people.

Hardik, yes kais mamkin hai ki rahul gandhi party chief labour si miln ka samay nahi di pai? Yes, just opened snub bola ja raha hai. [Hardik, how is it that Rahul Gandhi doesn’t have time to meet the working president of his own party? People are calling it an open snub.]

I don’t know. You people say things like he didn’t give time. During the Rahul Gandhi ji program in Dahod, Gujarat, which lasted 4-5 hours, there was a public gathering that lasted for two hours, then an individual meeting with MLAs, followed by a meeting with prominent leaders of the tribal community. It was obviously busy so we didn’t meet. We will definitely talk once the ‘Chintan Shivir’ is over and we will take positive decisions on various issues related to Gujarat.

Kyunki chunaav Gujarat mein 6 mahine mein hone waala hai aur aap working president haine Congress ke toh aapke kya kya demands? Aap kya chaahte hain ki Congress kya kare taaki woh takkar mein aa jaaye BJP ke? [Elections are scheduled in Gujarat in the next 6 months and as working president, what are your demands? What do you feel the Congress should do to put up a strong front against the BJP?]

First of all, I am not a politician trying to gain personal benefits by making demands to put pressure on the party when elections are held. I am not one of those politicians. I don’t have any political background but until then, we stand strong in Gujarat and have love for the people.

If I am a working boss, my responsibilities must be outlined. It’s been two years since I took this position but so far the responsibilities have not been defined. I may be the first politician to say that work should be given. you tell me; If the 5-6 kilometer badiatra in 4-5 zones should take out and make me in charge of the NSUI youth, is it my responsibility to look for the youth? Therefore, this is a simple requirement within the party to assign tasks.

If we fight hard, aggressively and quickly in the next six months, we will be able to get the support of the youth. I was only 21 years old when Narendra Modi ji became Chief Minister from Gujarat in 2014. In 2015, there was a big protest and we made contact with the youth. The reason behind this is that if you talk about people’s hopes and act on them, you will get people’s support.

Toh kya abhi Congress logon ki ummeedon pe khari nahi utar rahi hai? Yeh ek sawal hai aur doosra ye bhi hai Hardik ki jis tara Interior fighting multiple government units lee dekha jaa raha hai, ussi ki wajah se shayad Congress chunaav bhi haar rahi hai. Dekhiye kya hua Punjab mein, Uttarakhand mein; dono states congress isliye bhi haari kyunki wahaan par kheencha-taani chal rahi thi. kya aap yeh maante hain ki jab tak congress apne internal differences ko sorting nahi karegi tab tak external enemy ko seizing kaise karegi?

[So is the Congress not fulfilling the expectations of the people right now? Also, maybe the party is losing because of the internal fights in multiple units. See what happened in Punjab and Uttarakhand, both states where a power tussle was going on. Do you agree that the Congress can’t tackle an external enemy unless it resolves its internal tiffs?]

Look, in every country, politics between senior and junior leaders is deliberately distributed. Indeed, wherever there is senior leadership, they have their experience and control of the state, and in such cases, if there is consensus between senior and junior leaders, we can achieve results.

However, there are many states where the leaders are very old but not in a position to work and if the young leadership wants to work, they are not allowed to. I want this group to stop, and if in the coming days we can keep this group aside and stay united – as the saying goes that the five fingers can become a fist and work together – then good results will be achieved.

You have talked about Uttarakhand and Punjab. They had a different situation. I can’t go into details but if we talk about Gujarat, since we haven’t been in power for 30 years, there are many older PCC leaders and then there are younger leaders like us. So, somewhere, this gap remains. Everyone should be made to sit together and talk and tasks should be assigned on the basis of one’s ability to achieve good results.

Hardik, jo gutbaazi ki baat aap kar rahe hain, sab says gutbaazi dikh rahi hai. Aapka yeh bhi kehna hai ki old vs new hai, jo old guard hai, jiski age 60 saal se upar hai, woh aap yuva log ko Opportunity nahi de rahe. Yahi demands Sachin Pilot ki bhai hai Rajasthan Lee. Kya hum dekhenge ki aap log aapas mein baat-cheet karke kuch naya Bana Kark Forum Conference President Sonia Gandhi Ke Pas Jainji? [The groupism that you talk about is visible in all states. You also say that the old guard is not giving opportunities to the new turks. Sachin Pilot has the same grouse in Rajasthan. Is there a plan for you all to talk among yourselves and form a new forum to approach Congress president Sonia Gandhi?]

So far, no such discussion has occurred. I do not come from a political background to participate in such conversations. We are trapped people, leaders who roam the people, roam the villages, listen to people express their problems and pass the same on to the party leadership. Keep doing this work. I can’t express my opinions by creating these things [forums] Because I’m not a great leader. I work in my state till new hope sprouts in Gujarat.

Hardik, aapne yeh bhi kahaa ki Congress ko saare old aur new ko saath me bitha kar baat cheet karni chahiye. Toh kya ye baat-cheet nahi ho rahi hai? Kia C Abnei Congress President Milne Ke Kochich Ke Kiyuki Chunav Ap A Gaya Hai; 6 Mahin Ka time to increase the time of Nahi Hota Hai. Agar iss Tarah ka mann mutaav chal raha hai state unit mein toh uski wajah se result pe farak padega. [Hardik, does this mean there is no dialogue between the old and young leaders? Did you try and meet the Congress president because 6 months is not a long time and polls are right here. Tensions in the state unit may affect results.]

Listen, I didn’t ask for time to meet Sonia Gandhi-ji because all I had to pass on, I passed on through Rahul G and Priyanka Gandhi-ji and I believe they will help and protect us. I am not asking the leadership of the party to make me president, and make me prime minister; I’ve never been involved in all of this. Still saying so let me know what to do.

Suppose there are elections in other states, then we wish to strengthen the party and its propaganda there. I gave 100 per cent to the party in Gujarat and did not take anything from the party. Whatever I had, I always tried to dedicate it to the party. I think a right decision will be taken by the Gujarat party. This is not about giving positions, but assigning work. We want this to happen. We are leaders on earth. I don’t want to prepare a draft by sitting in air-conditioned rooms. I want to listen to people by going to them and offering them solutions. I want to change the political discourse in the country on a large scale. I may have slight disagreements about it, but at the same time, we have faith in the party.

Chaliye aapne yeh to kahaa ki naraazgi hai. Lekin kya Hardik Patel isliye naraaz hain kyonki Naresh Patel se beech me baat chal rahi thi? [Well at least you admitted you are upset. Is Hardik Patel also upset because there were talks with Naresh Patel?]

Let me tell you that if I can recommend Jignesh Mevani and Kanhaiya Kumar of my age, what problems will I face if Naresh Patel, who is between 55 and 60 years old, joins the party? This is an unfounded question.

Aakhiri sawaal yeh hoga ki kya Hardik Patel ab Congress mein rahenge? Jaise beech me baat-cheet chal rahi thi ki naraazgi itni ho gayi hai ki aap Congress party chhor karke kahin aur chale jayenge. [My last question is that will Hardik Patel stay with the Congress? Or will he leave, given the internal rift?]

No no. Look, sometimes people said that Hardik Patel is not feeling well. I was healthy so far, but people kept asking me, and it deteriorated my health. I will not make any political decision. I do something new every day in the state based on my preparations. I’m busy connecting people. This “Chintan Shivir” will end on May 16th. I’ll try to meet Rahul-ji on 16 or 17 and tell him what I think. Then it is up to him to decide what he wants to do in Gujarat. I think he will be excited about Gujarat so that some good things can be done in the state.

Hardik, Aapco ye lagta hai kiya ki congress thoda gir jad hai kyuki mamata banerjee ka bayan dekhi. Undo sign ka kehna hai ki Congress ab Seriously role nahi le rahi hai apna as the opposition. Congress Toh Kia Ik Not serious player Dekh Rahi Hai? [Do you feel that the Congress is coming across as a non-serious player? Look at Mamata Banerjee’s statement that the party is not taking its role as Opposition seriously.]

I believe that in a democracy, if the government is strong, then there must be an equally strong opposition. I feel proud to tell you this about Gujarat that before 2017, we only had 50 seats as opposition. Our protest was organized on a large scale. I obviously wasn’t a part of that time, but the Congress party benefited directly or indirectly. And after 1990, Congress for the first time had more than 80 seats. We could not return to power with only ten seats. I am very proud that we helped Congress strengthen itself as the opposition without being part of it. If everything works out in the Gujarat Congress, we will surely get the love of the people.

Toh kya Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Congress ki jagah le rahi hai Gujarat mein? [So is the AAP filling in for the Congress in Gujarat?]

Every party has the right to run for elections anywhere in the country, but time will tell which party the people support.

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