There has been a lot discussion about the Gujarat assembly elections in the past couple of weeks but it was the Patidar quota agitation, led by Hardik Patel, which still holds the centre stage in the elections held in the state. However, voters of non-Patel communities say that they are unaffected by the quota movement. Voters from different communities like the Kolis, Durbars, Bharwad, Ahirs and others aren’t really moved by the Patel agitation.
While speaking to the voters in multiple areas like Dhandhuka (Ahmedabad), Bhavnagar Rural, Mahuva and Talaja (Bhavnagar); Rajula (Amreli); Una, Kodinar and Talala (Gir Somnath); Manavadar and Visavadar (Junagadh); Jetpur and Gondal (Rajkot), Indian Express reported that the non-Patel voters from these are not affected or bothered with the movement led by Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel. If the word gets around then it may go against the hopes of BJP hopes that the Patidar assertion may result in counter polarisation among other communities.
Many members of the Koli community are likely to vote for the same party which they voted for earlier. One of the voters in Una said, “I will vote for the Congress as I did last time.” According to the 1931 caste census, Kolis form over 24% of Gujarat’s population; Patidars form 15%. Koli’s also have the largest chunk of the 40% OBC community. In Una, both Congress and BJP have placed a Koli candidate. The Indian Express reported that they also talked to a few members of Kolis who would move from the BJP to the Congress. Interestingly, being OBCs themselves none of the Koli voters mentioned the OBC quota demand by Patidars.
OBC Ratharia Rajputs from Bhavnagar, Gir Somnath and Junagadh weren’t affected by the Patidar agitation nor did upper-caste Rajputs, who call themselves Durbars. Rajputs from Dholera region shared that their apprehensions about the acquisition are firm and prefers BJP in the elections.
Many members of the Durbar community in Bhavnagar Rural have shown their preference for the Congress. Ahirs have a sizeable presence across Gir Somnath and Junagadh and most the Ahirs have indicated they would stick to their earlier preferences. “The Congress has fielded 8 Ahir candidates, the BJP 2. Otherwise, Modiji is good for Gujarat and the country,” said Vinu Bhai, from the Ahir community who has decided to vote for Congress because they have fielded more Ahir candidates in the region.
Oghad Bhai, a Bharwad from Rajabra village in Talaja of Bhavnagar said, “I had voted for the BJP and will vote for them again,” he said.