NEW DELHI: The deal with Patels has been done but a handshake between Hardik and Rahul Gandhi is unlikely during the Congress vice president’s two-day visit to Gujarat starting Friday.
“He (Rahul) has a busy schedule. I don’t think any meeting with Hardik is possible,” a senior AICC functionary told The New Indian Express.
Rahul’s visit comes two days after Hardik publicly announced to support the Congress in the next month’s assembly polls boosting the morale of the opposition party. The Congress vice president’s visit follows Rahul’s four-phased campaign across the state that ended on November 13.
Gujarat Congress sources said there was no pressing need for a Hardik-Rahul meeting as all of them were working together.
AICC insiders said Rahul’s two-day visit has been planned to sustain the momentum the party has been able to generate in Gujarat though the state unit is busy conducting door to door contact programme and corner meetings.
According to sources, Rahul’s Friday visit will be full of symbolism as he will start the day by visiting Kirti Mandir, the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi in Porbandar and also interact with fishermen at the local harbour.
Later in the day, he will hold back to back meetings with Dalits in Sanand, doctors and health sector workers and teachers and conclude the day with a rally in Ahmedabad.
On Saturday Rahul will have visit areas like Tehgam, Mahisagar and Santran which are dominated by OBC and tribal voters. He may touch Modasa as well, the sources said.
“Rahul is clearly trying to consolidate on the caste combination he has worked out in Gujarat to counter the BJP,” said another AICC functionary involved in the campaign.
Ahead of Rahul’s visit, the Congress tried to keep the BJP under pressure by urging the income tax authorities to probe Hardik’s allegation that a top state bureaucrat K Kailashnathan had offered him a bribe of Rs 1200 crore while he was in jail to support the saffron party.
“Earlier Hardik’s supporter Narendra Patel had alleged bribe offered to him by BJP. Before that our MLAs were offered money to switch sides during Rajya Sabha polls. We want the allegations and use of black money to be probed by the income tax department,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, adding, “It shows the BJP is worried about the poll outcome.”