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New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi has noticed factionalism in the Gujarat Congress and is expected to visit the western state soon to unite the team ahead of the assembly elections by the end of the year. Gujarat Congress chief Jagdish Thakor told ETV India, “The details of the visit are being worked out.” Discord in the state unit came to the fore after working president Hardik Patel alleged that he was being sidelined by state Congress leaders.

Hardik, who had earlier been the face of protests demanding reservation in jobs and education for the Patel community, had further said that he had informed Rahul about his uneasiness but the issue remained unresolved. When asked about Hardik’s public statements, the Gujarat Congress chief claimed that he spoke to the youth leader and sorted out the issues.

“No problem now. I have spoken to Hardik,” said Thakor, adding that the youth leader was keen to contest the upcoming assembly polls. Hardik recently got relief from the Supreme Court in a case that will allow him to contest the 2022 elections. Though Hardik had independently led the Patel reservation movement, he later joined the Congress at the behest of Rahul.

The importance that the former Congress president attaches to Gujarat was indicated when Rahul took note of the developments in the state unit and immediately sought a report from AICC in-charge Raghu Sharma. Party sources said that Rahul had called Sharma on Thursday, where the leaders discussed the strategy for the upcoming elections.

The Congress had supported the Patel reservation movement as the community is dominant in Gujarat and has around 12-14 per cent votes in the state. For this reason, BJP made Bhupendra Patel the chief minister in September last year in place of Vijay Rupani. While the Congress had roped in Hardik to boost its prospects, the party is also looking to induct another popular leader of the community, Naresh Patel.

“I have said earlier that if Naresh Patel wants to join us, we are open to him,” Thakor said. Interestingly, social worker Naresh Patel, who has been touring the state for the past one year, is also being traced by the BJP and AAP. AAP, which got some decent results in the Gujarat local body elections last year, is projecting itself as an alternative in the state and has recently organized a tricolor yatra.

Though a section of the old party is worried about AAP’s entry, Thakor claimed that the upcoming contest would be between the Congress and the BJP. “AAP’s results are in front of the people of Gujarat. They are making a lot of noise but this is going to be a Congress vs BJP fight,” Thakor said.

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