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After staying away from BJP in 2017, Patidars back ruling party in Gujarat to the hilt in 2022 polls

AHMEDABAD: The Patidar community, a section of which had voted against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2017 Assembly polls held in the backdrop of the quota agitation in Gujarat, returned to the ruling outfit in the 2022 elections, helping it win most of the seats dominated by the influential social group.

The BJP has done extremely well in the Patidar-dominated constituencies of the state, winning almost every seat that has significant Patel population.

Polling for the 182-member Gujarat Assembly took place on December 1 and 5, and votes were counted on December 8.

In the Saurashtra region, the Congress had won Patidar-dominated seats of Morbi, Tankara, Dhoraji and Amreli, among others in 2017. However, all these Assembly segments this time went in the BJP’s kitty.

In Patidar-dominated Surat, where the AAP was banking on the community to bag a few seats, the social group by and large backed the ruling party. The saffron outfit won Patidar seats of Varachha Road, Katargam and Olpad with huge margins.

In North Gujarat, the Congress had won Patidar-dominated Unjha seat five year ago, but this time it was wrested by the BJP.

The BJP, ahead of the 2022 elections, reached out to the Patel community. The party replaced its Chief Minister Vijay Rupani with incumbent Bhupendra Patel in September 2021.

The ruling outfit brought in Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel to its fold from the Congress and fielded him from the Viramgam Assembly seat from where he won by a handsome margin.

The biggest move of the BJP at the state and central level which placated the community was giving 10 per cent quota in jobs and education to the poor (economically weaker sections or EWS) among ”upper castes”.

The 2017 polls were fought in the shadow of Hardik Patel-led quota agitation launched to secure OBC status for the community.

In the 2017 elections, despite setting an ambitious target of winning 150 out of the 182 seats, the BJP bagged just 99 seats. Thanks to the Patidar quota agitation and whirlwind campaign by Hardik Patel against the BJP, the opposition Congress had then emerged victorious on 77 seats.

As per community’s estimate, there are nearly 40 seats in Gujarat where Patidar voters play a decisive role. These seats are scattered across rural as well as urban landscapes of the state.

Though Patels account for nearly 18 per cent of Gujarat’s population, 44 Patidar MLAs were elected in 2017, which showed their influence on electoral politics in Gujarat.

Some of the seats having high concentration of Patidar voters in Saurashtra region are Morbi, Tankara, Gondal, Dhoraji, Amreli, Savarkundla, Jetpur, Rajkot East, Rajkot West and Rajkot South.

While Vijapur, Visnagar, Mehsana and Unjha seats in north Gujarat have considerable number of Patidar voters, at least five seats of Ahmedabad city – Ghatlodia, Sabarmati, Maninagar, Nikol and Naroda – are also considered Patel-dominated segments.

In south Gujarat, several seats in Surat district are considered Patidar bastion, including Varachha, Kamrej, Katargam and Surat North.

For the 2022 polls, the BJP had given tickets to 41 Patidars, one more than the Congress’s tally. The AAP had also given tickets to a significant number of members from the community.

To keep the community happy, the saffron outfit had also declared that Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel will be retained on the post after the elections.

Ahead of the polls, the Jamnagar-based Sidsar Umiyadham Trust, which represents the Kadva Patidar sect, had demanded that the BJP field at least 50 Patidar candidates.

Source: Press Trust of India

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