Gujarat polls: As Hardik's influence wanes and Patidar movement fades, Ahmedabad Patels realign with BJP

The boys who come to GMDC ground now to play cricket don't discuss the upcoming polls in the state. However, about two years ago on 25 August, 2015, the Patidar agitation on this ground became the point of discussion for the entire state.

The Patidar agitation gained momentum after the police lathicharged the protesters and opened fire on them, killing a few.

Two students of LJ Institute, Vinay Koshthi and Ujayfa, had come to the GMDC ground on Sunday morning to play cricket. When asked about the Patidar agitation of 2015, both quipped that the movement has no effect now.

Vinay said, "Whatever may happen, BJP will win from here." Uyayfa also said that the effect of the movement is not profound enough to defeat the BJP now.

Despite the fact that there is practically no election talk in the GMDC ground today, it is interesting to note that the resentment of the Patidar community against the BJP started from this very place. Hardik Patel emerged as the Patel leader due to the ruckus during the rally.

Gujarat polls: As Hardiks influence wanes and Patidar movement fades, Ahmedabad Patels realign with BJP

Both Vinay and Ujayfa are supporting the BJP in this elections. Image procured by the author.

The government's grip seemed a little loose for the first time during the Patidar movement. The entire issue wasn't handled in a proper way. The resentment grew to the point that then chief minister Anandiben Patel was forced to resign. It as the first time that the chief minister of any state had posted her resignation on Facebook. Perhaps it was her own anger that made her resign in such a way.

BJP handed over the reins to Vijay Rupani. However, Hardik now seems to be attacking the BJP over this issue and BJP chief Amit Shah is also one of his main targets. The Patel leader alleges that Shah ordered the lathicharge on the protesters at GMDC ground.

The BJP, which has termed the agreement between Congress and Hardik an agreement between two fools, is trying to project the Congress as an anti-Patel party. Hardik is responding to these allegations and targeting Shah even for Anandiben's resignation.

Even though he keeps raking up the issue of lathicharge, there seems little or no effect of his talks in some areas of Ahmedabad.

Akash Patel from Ghatlodiya said Hardik has made no impression here. His friend Sawant Patel nodded in agreement. Both Akash and Sawant also witnessed the Patidar agitation that happened at the GMDC ground two years ago, but they are not happy with the agreement between Hardik and Congress. They were talking about voting for the BJP again.

Amrish Patel, who was once a part of Hardik's core team, has also sided with the BJP now. Ghatlodiya has been Anandiben Patel's constituency. However, she is not contesting in this year's election. BJP tried to persuade her to fight the election in an attempt to wane Hardik's influence but she didn't agree.

According to BJP sources, the party had given senior leader Om Mathur was given the responsibility to convince the former chief minister but, all efforts failed. In an attempt to please her, BJP has fielded her close aide Bhupendra Patel from Ghatlodiya.

In an attempt to please Anandiben Patel, the BJP has fielded her close aide from her Ghodiyal constituency. Image procured by the author.

In an attempt to please Anandiben Patel, the BJP has fielded her close aide from her Ghatlodiya constituency. Image procured by the author.

Bhupendra Patel told Firstpost, "People are a little unhappy when the chief minister is not from their constituency however, Anandiben patel's popularity is still the same. There has been no effect of the Patridar agitation in this area."

The atmosphere was similar in Anandiben Patel's village and people seemed to be supporting the BJP.

Shailesh Patel said, "The Patels have understood that they will not get reservation and there's no point in going with the Congress." Meanwhile, Kaushik Panchal also said that he is supporting the BJP.

The BJP has fielded senior party workers and Kaushik Patel from the nearby constituency of Naranpura, which is thought to be a traditionally Shah seat. Despite Shah being a constant target for Hardik, there seems to be no problem for the BJP in this particular constituency.

Ramesh Patel from Naranpura said, "Hardik has got distracted. The reservation issue was okay but now, he has got distracted and sided with the Congress."

Even though Ahmedabad does not seem to be a problem for the BJP, Hardik is making the lathicharge in the GMDC ground an issue and raising it everywhere. Usually there are discussions about the two sub-castes of the Patidar – Kadva and Leuva. However, there are talks of the youth and aged Patels this time.

Hardik considered the crowd at his rallies as the support of the youth. However, the BJP is trying to debunk this claim by terming it a Congress-sponsored crowd.

Even though the crowd is visible in all of Hardik's rallies, be it the one in Rajkot or Surat, it remains to be seen if this will translate into votes. However, the GMDC ground and Ahmedabad does not seem to be supporting the Patel leader.

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Updated Date: Dec 04, 2017 16:46:03 IST

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