Ahead of Polls in Gujarat, Amit Shah Reaches Out to 'Placate' Influential Kadva Patel Community
The community, considered BJP supporters, had voted for the Congress in the 2017 Assembly elections after the saffron party failed to fulfill its promises in the aftermath of the Patidar quota agitation.
File photo of BJP president Amit Shah. (PTI Image)
Ahmedabad: In a major development, BJP President Amit Shah on Thursday evening reached out to trustees of the Vishwa Umiya Foundation, a community organisation of economically and politically powerful Kadva Patels. Shah, who will contest the Lok Sabha polls from Gandhinagar, reportedly assured community members that the BJP government will take care of their “grievances”.
Shah’s meeting with the community, coming 11 days before elections in Gujarat, is considered significant. Patidar quota stir leader Hardik Patel also belongs to the Kadva Patel community.
Vishwa Umiya Foundation coordinator CK Patel told reporters on Friday that Shah discussed a number of pending issues, including jobs for kin of Patidar youths who were killed during the quota stir.
“It was a courtesy meeting and there was nothing to read between the lines, but we discussed certain issues pertaining to our community. These included withdrawal of criminal cases filed against Patidar youth during quota protests and jobs for the kin of those killed during the stir. Amit Shah has assured us that the government is positive and will fulfil our demands very soon,” he said.
Hardik Patel had spearhead the 2015 agitation under the banner of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) and demanded reservation in education and jobs in the OBC category. With lakhs of Patidar youth participating in the protests, the stir had forced Chief Minister Anandiben Patel to resign, leading to a change of guard in the state.
According to Patidar leaders, 14 Patidar youth were killed, mostly in police clashes. They say that the state government’s assurance of withdrawing all cases filed against the community’s young members during the quota stir is yet to be fulfilled. The leaders claim that the government has withdrawn just a few cases.
According to political analysts, the Patidar quota agitation led to the BJP losing considerable ground in the 2017 Assembly polls in seats dominated by Kadva Patels. While the community has traditionally voted for the BJP for the last three decades, its members had switched loyalties to the Congress in many areas of north Gujarat and Saurashtra.
The BJP had lost Assembly seats in Unjha, Mansa, Dhranghdhra, Viramgam, Morbi and Junagadh, which are dominated by Kadva Patels. Most notably, the Congress had defeated the BJP in Vadnagar, which falls under Unjha and is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home. Losing the Mansa seat also hurt as it is the home turf of party president Amit Shah.
The community’s influence gained importance after Hardik Patel joined the Congress last month.
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