The Patidar agitation in the state of Gujarat was seen as a game changer in the run-up to the 2017 assembly polls in the state. While the BJP managed to register a comfortable victory in the state, the Rahul Gandhi-led Congress had to content itself with a “moral victory” in the state. The results were at variance with what many political pundits had predicted keeping the Patidar agitation in mind. Hardik Patel, who had aligned with the Congress in the run-up to the assembly elections was seen as the one who would prove to be the nemesis of the BJP in the state. Clearly, Hardik Patel’s role in the election dynamics was overemphasised.
While Hardik Patel has grabbed headlines time and again and has been described as a political gamechanger by political analysts time and again, it is interesting to note that even though seen as a political heavyweight by many, Patel couldn’t contest the 2017 assembly polls in Gujarat and will also be unable to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls in all likelihood.
In the run-up to the 2017 assembly elections in Gujarat, Patel was too young to contest elections. He turned 25 only on July 23, 2018, when he became eligible to contest elections. However, he was convicted by a Visnagar court a couple of days later on July 25, 2018, and sentenced to a two-year jail term. Thus, he once again became ineligible to contest elections. With less than a year to go for the parliamentary polls, Hardik Patel was confronted with a legal hurdle that disqualified him from contesting the parliamentary polls.
Hardik Patel recently joined Congress and also expressed the desire to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls from the Jamnagar parliamentary constituency. However, as explained above, he stands disqualified from contesting the polls owing to a two-year jail sentence following conviction in a rioting case. As per TOI, Hardik Patel has been desperately trying to secure a stay on his conviction. With less than a month to go for the Lok Sabha polls, he is literally racing against time to somehow secure a stay on his conviction. The Gujarat High Court has scheduled a hearing on his plea on March 26, and then Patel will be effectively left with just nine days to secure a stay on his conviction.
Meanwhile, the Congress has proposed 17 candidates and has shared their details with the party high command for the Jamnagar Lok Sabha seat. Hardik Patel expressed the desire to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections from this constituency only. What is interesting to note is the fact that this list excludes the name of the Patidar agitation leader, Hardik Patel. It is therefore very much possible that the grand old party has written him off for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls given his ineligibility owing to the conviction last year.
It seems that Hardik Patel will yet again hold mere symbolic importance in Gujarat politics owing to his inability to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
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