6 events in 3 months: Modi woos Patidars ahead of polls

On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in Gujarat to open, among other projects, KD Parvadiya Hospital, a multi-specialty facility built by the Patidar Group, in Atkot village in Rajkot district.

This is another outreach attempt by Modi to attract the alienated Patidar community ahead of the 2017 assembly elections. Of the 17 events Modi has addressed in his state since March, six were organized by groups with strong ties to the Patidar community.

The BJP leadership is doing everything they can, including the appointment of a ‘chief chief minister’ and a new cabinet last year, to win back the somewhat disappointed Battidars ahead of the 2017 elections after the quota instigation led by Hardik Patel.

The Patidar community has a great influence on the electoral politics of Gujarat. They make up about 12 per cent of the total population of over Rs 6 crore in the state. There are several constituencies in the assembly where about 15 per cent of the population belongs to the Patidar community and they can directly influence the outcome of the election. The community is also an effective fund manager in electoral politics.

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Hardik resigned from Congress last week and has not ruled out joining the BJP.

While Congress capitalized on Battidar’s wrath in 2017, the community appeared to have supported the AAP in the 2021 local body elections.

Another major Patidar leader, Rajkot-based businessman Naresh Patel and chairman of the Shree Khodaldham Trust, has announced plans to join politics and has been in conversation with Congress, although nothing concrete has emerged. It is against this background that the Prime Minister’s efforts to continuously engage with society gain importance.

On April 28, Modi nearly opened KK Patel Super Specialty Hospital in Buj, which was also built by Patidar organisation, Shri Kutch Leuva Patel Education & Medical Trust. KD Parvadiya Hospital, which will open on Saturday, was built by Patel Seva Samaj, Atkot, a Patidar charitable trust.

On April 29, Modi delivered a virtual speech at the Gujarat Patidar Business Summit, 2022, organized by Sardardham, the Patidar organisation. This year, Modi decided to actually address the third edition of the summit for the first time in Surat. In an apparent reference to the agitation for the 2015 Pattidar quota, Modi then said: “There are some boys in your neighborhood, who have come out against us, and raised flags… they won’t even know how you spent your days in the dark… Tell them… about what kind of days are.” that I saw and where we came from…”

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According to a senior BJP leader, “For our party, ‘Sapka Sath, Sabka Vikas’ is not just a slogan but a strategy. We cannot appease only one community, it will be electorally against us.” Another leader describes the Batidars as the “backbone” of the BJP.

Congress leader Pattidar Paresh Dhanani said Patidar would not fall into the trap of Modi’s attempts to “deceive them”.

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