BJP has decided to make Bhupendra Patel the Sardar of Gujarat. After 5 years, a Patidar has been given the command of the state again. Modi-Shah has taken this step under a very well thought out strategy. Through this, the party wants to please the Bidke Patidar community for some time now.
The Patidar community is very powerful in Gujarat. With both money and power. This community has a big role to play in the BJP’s two-decade-long victory campaign. Anandiben Patel resigned in 2016. She comes from this community. By giving the leadership of the state in the hands of Bhupendra Patel, the BJP high command has played the Patidar card. The strength of the Patidar community can be understood from the fact that it can change the course of more than 70 electoral seats in the state. Before the elections in the state in 2022, the BJP has taken a big step in the exercise of wooing the Patidar community through this.
can change attitude
It is said that it is the support of the Patidar community that has kept the BJP in Gujarat for the last two decades. The strength of the Patidars in the state can be gauged from the fact that they can change the course of election results in more than 70 of the 182 assembly constituencies. These 71 constituencies account for 15 per cent or more of the electorate. Patidars are 1.5 crore out of about 6 crore population of Gujarat. It is estimated to be 12-14 per cent of the population. An analysis of the BJP’s vote share in the last few years shows that about one-fourth of it is of Patidars. Of the 48 per cent vote share the BJP got in 2012, 11 per cent belonged to Patidars.
After all, who are the Patidars?
Patidars or Patels describe themselves as descendants of Lord Rama. This community is spread all over Gujarat. Their population is very high in North Gujarat and Saurashtra. The Patidar community is quite influential economically and politically in Gujarat. He had a political clout across the state till the late 1970s. At that time this community was a strong supporter of Congress.
However, in the 1980s, the Congress increased its focus on Kshatriyas, Harijans, Adivasis and Muslims. Reservation got strength. Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi made a big shift in the party’s policy by giving the slogan ‘Garibi Hatao’. This angered the Patidars. They started shifting towards BJP. Today the situation is that one-third of BJP MLAs in the state are Patels. The inclusion of Mansukh Mandaviya in the Union Cabinet was also an exercise to appease the Patidar community.
angry for some time
The Patidar community has been angry with the BJP in the recent past. The reason for this is the demand for reservation. The community has been demanding Other Backward Classes (OBC) for itself since 2015. Leaders like Hardik Patel emerged from this movement. This demand became very strong under the leadership of Hardik Patel. Incidents of violence took place at many places. Hardik Patel was even arrested. Later the state government gave 10 percent reservation to the poor upper castes. These include the Patidars.
the impact of elections
BJP won the 2017 election by a simple majority. In 2017 it got 99 seats. Whereas in 2012 elections it got 115 seats. The vote share of Patidars has also decreased since the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Where in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the party got 60 percent of the votes of the Patidars. At the same time, it came down to 49.1% in 2017.
Elections are due in Gujarat next year. In view of this, BJP has started wooing the Patidar community. Before the Lok Sabha elections in 2019, the cabinet expansion of the Gujarat BJP government took place. In this, 6 Patidar leaders got a place. When the Modi cabinet expanded in 2021, seven people of the state got a place in it. In the recent reshuffle of the Union Cabinet, Mansukh Mandaviya and Purushottam Rupala were promoted from Ministers of State to Union Ministers. Both of them come from the Patidar community. The demand for making a Patidar the Chief Minister was continuously gaining momentum in the state.
increased focus of central leadership
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to inaugurate ‘Sardar Dham’ in Ahmedabad on September 11. It has been built by Vishwa Patidar Samaj. 200 crore has been spent on this. It is being touted as a one-stop business, social and educational hub for the Patidar community. It is said that attending the program of the Prime Minister is an attempt to please the Patidar community.