BJP and Congress are trying hard to win support from various sections of Gujarati ahead of upcoming assembly elections. The leaders from two communities – Patidars and Dalits – have made maximum headlines this elections season. However, there is one more very important community which is not making much news – the Hindi speaking community of Gujarat.
There are over 1 crore members from the community in the state, out of which, around 60 lakhs are eligible to vote. It is reported that this population is concentrated in Umargaon at Gujarat-Maharashtra border to Kutch valley. The Hindi population plays decider in at least 20 assembly seats between Valsad to Ahmedabad.
In Valsad, Madhu Shrivastava from BJP is getting elected as an MLA from many terms. Also, Rajendra Singh, from another seat, is serving as a minister in ruling Vijay Rupani government. A report in Hindi daily Dainik Jagran says that in many of the villages near Ankleshwar district, even the Sarpanchs who are getting elected are Hindi speaking leaders. The report says that mainstream parties do recognise the significance of the community in the election.
Both Congress and BJP have separate teams to address the concerns of this group of voters.
The Congress had formed an ‘other language’ group two decades ago under the leadership of Rae Bareli-based JP Pandey. In response, BJP had also formed a similar group under the leadership of CR Patil. Initially, it was Congress which received overwhelming support from the community. However, with Narendra Modi wave in 2014 in Hindi belt, the support base has somewhat moved from Congress to BJP, the report says. The community had played a big role in BJP victory on all 26 seats in Gujarat Lok Sabha election.
With an eye on making a comeback in Gujarat, BJP and Congress is trying to garner support from all possible voters. Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani Patidar leader Hardik Patel have remained critical of BJP. However, they have also not announced support for the Congress as well. It will be interesting to say who gets the support of Hindi community in Gujarat.