GUJARAT ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS 2017: Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP), having won 2 seats in the 2012 Gujarat legislative assembly elections created a storm in the Patidar community in Gujarat. In the middle of the storm was Keshubhai Patel who powered the GPP’s short-lived innings in Gujarat with “injustice to Patidars” slogan and made a small dent with two seats in BJP’s victory that year. Such a feat was achieved first time by a third party since 1995. The GPP was backed by the RSS and got 3.63% of the vote which are said to be the BJP’s anti-incumbency votes.
In this year’s Gujarat legislative assembly elections, a similar stir can be seen as big crowds were seen at Patidar quota agitation lead by Hardik Patel. This raises a question on whether the BJP could once again lose the Patidar vote? The same vote bank that has been anchoring BJP’s victory since 1995. Hardik Patel enjoys the support of the young Patel, mostly under the age of 40 and is one of the major worries for the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Over the reservation, Hardik’s party, Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) has an understanding with the Congress party. In the list of candidates released by the Congress party on Sunday Lalit Vasoya, from Dhoraji has secured a spot. Lalit Vasoya is a member of PAAS.
In the 6 crore population of Gujarat, Patidars account for about 12 per cent, which is around one-eighth of the total population. They form about 15 per cent or more of the electorate in 71 of the 182 seats. This has the ability to change the verdict if enough of them vote in one direction.
BJP MLA Kumar Kanani will be up for a challenge as he sits in the Varachha Marg assembly constituency, a constituency which has the highest concentration of Patidars, around 60 per cent. In Surat, areas like Katargam, Surat North, and Kamrej have more than 40 per cent of Patidars. In the 2015 civic polls, areas like Visavadar, Gondal, and Unjha, the BJP had failed to win a single seat.
The 23-year-old Hardik Patel is not eligible to contest in the elections but is surely in the limelight of the election. His build-up for the election is around an anti- Prime Minister Narendra Modi, anti-Amit Shah and anti-BJP sentiment. During the course of last week, Patel has been alleged in three of the sex videos. “As a seasoned politician I have to accept this,” said Patel after the first video emerged. The BJP is working really hard to cause a stir against Hardik but has officially stayed away from the leaked sex videos of Hardik Patel.
“The Patidar community has always supported the BJP and in the upcoming elections they will vote for the BJP,” said BJP MLA Rushikesh Patel. Rushikesh Patel has been a target of Hardik Patel in the quota agitation in 2015. Rushikesh Patel also added, “The young generation of Gujarat has been misguided by someone like Hardik Patel. Now the community has seen his true face.”
Narendra Patel shared the stage with Rahul Gandhi in Mehsana recently. Narendra Patel is among the liked by the Congress. Even OBC leader Alpesh Thakor joined the Congress, but it is the young Hardik who is considered the main weapon for the Congress party in the elections.