Much before the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh were announced, the Patidar community had pledged its support to the Congress after its leaders met Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Kamal Nath in August, as reported by Pune Mirror. However, after the final list of candidates was declared, Patidars swore allegiance to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The community — which demanded a minimum of 15 seats from the Congress — felt cheated by the Opposition party as it fielded only one Patidar candidate from among the 230 seats across the state from which it fielded its nominees.
Madhya Pradesh has the second largest population of Patidars after Gujarat, with nearly 60 lakh voters belonging to the community, out of which 40 lakh are from the Malwa region itself. Also, out of the 230 seats in contention, the fate of around 34 would be predominantly decided by a majority of Patidar voters present in these constituencies, the Pune Mirror report stated.
Still, Congress has given ticket only to Satyanarayan Patidar from Neemuch, as opposed to BJP which has fielded seven candidates belonging to the community. Presently too, there are 11 BJP MLAs from the Patidar community in Madhya Pradesh as against just two from the Congress. The state’s only Patidar MP is also from BJP.
However, despite this the community was pinning hope on Congress to favour its leaders during ticket distribution but, was disappointed to be let down at the last moment. And thus after initial hesitation and resistance from a few members, the community finally decided to full-fledged support the BJP in the 28 November elections.
Speaking to Firstpost, Rajesh Patidar, who is also the Mandsaur district head of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), said that the community as a whole decided to support the BJP and cut all ties with the Congress for having cheated on its promise. “Patidar community ke saath bohaut bada dhoka kiya hai Congress ne...samaaj mein bada aakrosh hai” (The Congress has deceived the Patidar community and the members of the community are agitated over this), he said. Accusing the Congress of ignoring farmers, OBCs and other backward classes, Patidar accused the grand old party of not keeping the community leaders in the loop about the last minute changes in the candidate list. “Congress keval lena jaanti hai, dena nahin” (The Congress only knows how to take away from someone but does not give in return), Rajesh alleged.
Another Patidar leader from Mandsaur, Trilok Patidar too echoed his sentiments. He lamented the fact that Congress was letting go of the support of lakhs of voters by sidelining the Patidar community and will thus be faced with an adverse poll outcome for backtracking on their pre-poll promise done to the community and its leaders.
The decision to fully support the BJP was taken by the community after its members met with the Election Commission and expressed the wish to change their loyalties, Rajesh told. He also said that the community leaders had discussions with the BJP members and that their final decision to support the ruling party was conveyed to it. Whereas, there were no further talks with the Congress on the issue.
Meanwhile, the state Congress denied having knowledge of any such rift with the Patidar community. Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) spokesperson JP Dhanopia told Firstpost, that Congress has not given any ticket based on the caste of the candidates and has rather preferred the candidate’s winnability while deciding on their candidature. “Jaativaad pe koi ticket nahin diya gaya hai,” Dhanopia said.
Therefore, in such a situation where the Patidar community turned its back on the Congress, it is advantage BJP, as going into the polls, the incumbent Shivraj Singh Chouhan government now enjoys the support of the politically dominant community. The run-up to the Madhya Pradesh elections saw many politicians turn political turncoats switch sides overnight. However, the support of the Patidar community is crucial for BJP given that the community was earlier upset with the party over the police firing in Mandsaur which killed six farmers, including four Patidars.
But whether or not this support translates into a win for the BJP remains to be seen, and the picture will be clear only when the election results are announced on 11 December.
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Updated Date: Dec 03, 2018 11:39 AM