Ahmedabad: With Mr Hardik Patel joining the Congress, there is a strong sense in the Gujarat BJP that the party may lose Patel votes in the election.
Patels, both Kadva and Leuva, form the second largest vote bank and they have been with the party since the 1990s. After Mr Hardik Patel’s reservation quota agitation started in July 2015, the party has been struggling to retain Patel voters.
Under chief minister Anandibehn Patel, the BJP lost a majority of district panchayats in 2015. In the 2017 Assembly elections, too, the Hardik Patel factor had badly damaged the party and its tally in the state Assembly had gone down to 99 from 117.
Now, fearing a further loss of votes, the BJP seems to be focusing on OBCs and other non-Patel voters. The recent induction of Congress MLAs clearly indicates this. Four of the five MLAs who joined the BJP are non-Patels. All four MLAs are from Saurashtra where the BJP could secure only 19 out of the total 47 seats in the last Assembly election, mostly due to the disappointment of Patel voters. The situation has not improved much for the BJP since then.