The Hush Post: Fourteen per cent of the Gujarat voters are Patidars, an influential caste, probably close to how the Jats are in Haryana not in terms of population, but to use the same word again, influence. BJP has been riding on the Patels for many years now, probably decades. With close to 40 MLAs in the house belonging to the Patidar community and as many as nine ministers, the question is will Hardik make it hard for the BJP. Slivers of hope for Congress were again seen today as the sun set, but not before a quick flip-flop Gujarat saw from Hardik. First Hardik termed the Congress “the same as the BJP” and then said he will still be with the party, so what if there was a backroom noise over whom to field in the December 9 elections and in that sense differences with the Congress.
Finally, Hardik could just snatch one seat from the crutchy Congress of Gujarat, a party which was mostly in the ICU condition till these elections. Hardik had been seeking the Patidar support for Congress. But Congress’ reluctance to give his outfit PAAS Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, a good number of seats meant they were not seeing eye-to-eye. They have been given just one seat right now. Meanwhile, the BJP has urged the Patidars that Hardik and the Congress are fooling them. The Patel community, since 1995 has mostly been with the BJP. But, Hardik turned it around more recently.
Hardik Patel said at a press conference that Congress will first find out the less represented and educationally backward and then guarantee a share of government jobs to them. Hardik has also demanded that his caste should be included among Other Backward Classes (OBCs). If the Congress agrees to that, it definitely means that they could alienate OBC leaders like Jignesh Mevani whose own share of quota would be reduced. Forty of the total 120 of BJP’s current legislators in Gujarat are from the community. Nine ministers in the outgoing government are also Patels. The total strength of the Gujarat Assembly is 182.