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Gujarat Patidar Leader Naresh Patel Meets Prashant Kishor In Delhi; Says Yet To Finalise Political Party

Notably, quota spearhead and Gujarat Congress working president Hardik Patel had recently questioned the "delay" by Congress leadership over the induction of Naresh Patel into the party fold. The SKT headed by Patel manages the affairs of the Shree Khodaldham temple dedicated to the goddess Khodiyar in the Rajkot district, the patron deity of the Leuva Patel community.       

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Naresh Patel met poll strategist Prashant Kishor PTI File Photo

Influential Patidar leader Naresh Patel, who heads Shree Khodaldham Temple Trust, on Saturday said he had met poll strategist Prashant Kishor in New Delhi but has not finalised the party he may join ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections.

Amid speculation that he may join Congress at the behest of Kishor, Patel said that he will take a final call on which political party to join based on a public opinion survey being conducted by a committee of the Shree Khodaldham Trust (SKT).

Patel has said that leaders from all the three parties (Congress, AAP and BJP) had met him. Kishor is learnt to have suggested top Congress leadership to induct Patel into Congress ahead of elections, due in December this year, sources said. 

Notably, quota spearhead and Gujarat Congress working president Hardik Patel had recently questioned the "delay" by Congress leadership over the induction of Naresh Patel into the party fold. The SKT headed by Patel manages the affairs of the Shree Khodaldham temple dedicated to the goddess Khodiyar in the Rajkot district, the patron deity of the Leuva Patel community.       

The Patidars form about 11-12% of the population in Gujarat and are the influential caste group whose votes can sway results in many constituencies. "I visited Delhi to attend a wedding ceremony yesterday (Friday) where I met several political leaders. I met them informally. I would not provide specific names. There is no denying the fact that I have met Prashant Kishor. At the wedding function, I met him, but this does not mean that I will be joining Congress on May 2," the 56-year-old Leuva Patidar leader told reporters after landing at Rajkot airport.

He said that his meeting with political leaders at the wedding function was informal and not official. "I will make the final decision soon on joining a political party. There is no substance in the speculation that I am joining Congress on May 2. I haven't talked to anyone regarding this," he said. Patel said that he will join a political party and will announce the decision himself. "I am not dithering on taking a decision but it will be an important decision. The survey is nearly completed. I will hold a meeting on Monday and I will most likely declare it (the decision) by the end of this month," he added.

He said that people from all the three parties (Congress, AAP and BJP) have met him. "But the question is where and when I will join. I am waiting for clarity, I will let you know," Patel added. 

(With PTI inputs)

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