Once a support base for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the Leuva Patels today are a unhappy lot with the chief minister trimming their traditional hold in Gandhinagar. Modi has not only alienated political leaders but also caste leadership.
“Gujarat with its growth rate has not done much socially. That is the main factor any Indian state would need today,” Naresh Patel, a Leuva Patel caste leader and president, Khodal Dharn Trust told CNN-IBN.
Patel is someone who can influence the Leuva Patel vote bank against Modi. In the confines of Saurashtra, caste equations, local and leadership issues dominate rural politics.
Moditwa is weakest in Saurashtra, on the contrary, the rebels are strongest there.
Keshubhai Patel, who himself belongs to the caste, brought the BJP to power way back in 1995. Since then, Saurashtra has remained with the saffron party.
Sidelined for long, Keshubhai left BJP after a long association to form the Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) recently. Given the popularity, the party has fielded maximum number of candidates from among the Leuva Patels.
"Those who have grown up the tree, after the fruits are there, do they not deserve the fruits? The state government is running only for corporates," said GPP vice president and former home minister Gordhan Xadaphiya.
But caste alone may not be enough to dislodge Modi.
The rebels are hoping for a much more powerful reason and they have found that amid farmer resentment in parched Saurashtra. Due to the erratic monsoon this year, the cotton crop failed massively.
"All we want is water and nobody has done anything about that," said farmer Inderbhai Jadeja.
The dryness in cotton fields may not be a matter concerning all. In 2007, Saurashtra gave Modi 39 out of the 52 seats. Holding on to that figure will be the biggest test for the chief minister.
The state goes to polls on 13 and 17 December. The counting of votes is on 20 December.
Updated Date: Dec 11, 2012 18:52:12 IST