Well-known Gujarat child rights activist Sukhdev Patel, who was suspended from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in 2015, has rejoined the party in an "attempt" to revamp it. Founder of Gantar, an NGO devoted to child rights, Patel decided made his debut into politics in 2012-end, ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Appointed convener of AAP, Patel brought with him several Gujarat activists to the party. However, internal bickering forced him out of the party three years later. Khadi wearing and known to be having a Gandhian bent of mind with deep understanding of Gujarati society, Patel decided not to leave politics on being suspended from the party.
Patel joined AAP ahead of the party’s announcement to officially kick-start its campaign for the Gujarat assembly elections, slated for December with an “azadi” rally by Arvind Kejriwal in state capital Gandhinagar on March 26.
Addressing newspersons, AAP leader Gopal Rai, in charge of the party's poll organisation in Gujarat, said the party would organise 'azadi' rallies in all 182 constituencies starting on March 16, which will culminate with rally addressed by Kejriwal on March 26 rally.
“We want people to be free of the fear of (BJP President) Amit Shah's gang and that of the BJP government in Gujarat," Rai said, announcing that party volunteers will collect memorandums of demand from all the constituencies to be handed over to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani.
Founding a small political group called Sushan (good governance) Party after he left AAP, Patel told Counterview, not just he, but the entire group of activists will join AAP. “Our party had still not been registered. We held a meeting and decided to rejuvenate AAP in Gujarat”, he said, "Our Sushan organization will continue as a political NGO."
Amidst reports that he would be part of the party’s manifesto committee, asked what role he has been given, and whether he would become its Gujarat convener again, Patel said, “I am an ordinary member right now. I will work and revive the organization, which is in a dormant state in Gujarat.”
“AAP’s main aim would be create an atmosphere against the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Gujarat”, Patel said, adding, “We may not win the elections right now, but we aim to become a formidable force in the December assembly polls.”
Calling Congress policies “disastrous” and “politically suicidal”, Patel, who is known to be close to Gujarat's Jay Prakash Narain group, particularly took exception to senior Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil’s recent “offer” to Patels to provide 10% reservation if it came to power.
“This type of statement is only vitiating the political atmosphere in Gujarat”, he said, ruling out any truck with the Congress ahead of the assembly polls. “We know that Congress cannot win. It has no chances. The polls will give us an opportunity to become an alternative force”, he said.
Known to be close to a large number of civil rights and grassroots activists in Gujarat, it is not known if they would join Patel again. According sources close to him, during negotiations with AAP leadership to rejoin the party, some senior activists, too, were consulted.