Congress and AAP in race to woo Patidars in election year – The New Indian Express
Express press service
AHMEDABAD: With Gujarat heading to the polls later this year, all political parties are ready to woo the powerful Patidar community. The Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party are reaching out to influential community leaders.
After appointing Jagdish Thakor as chairman of his state unit and tribal leader Sukhram Rathva as leader of the opposition, Congress turned to Khodaldham (a major Leuva Patels place of worship in Rajkot) leader Naresh Patel and veteran Shankersinh Vaghela.
Thakor claimed Congress was in touch with Patel and “other like-minded leaders.” At an event on Wednesday, he also praised Vaghela’s social contribution to the state. AAP youth wing vice president Yuvraj Sinh Jadeja also met with Naresh Patel on Thursday, reportedly to seek his support in connection with various recruitment exam scandals.
Patel has previously hinted that he will join politics when the time is right if the community ‘asks’ him to do so. As administrator of Khodaldham, he has hundreds of thousands of followers of Patidars. Four Patidar Congress MPs also met with former Patidar leader Anamat Andolan Samiti Alpesh Kathiriya on Wednesday and asked him to join the party. They believe his entry will strengthen the party’s base in Surat regions dominated by Saurashtra and Patidar.
The Patidars, with 13% of Gujarat’s voting population, can influence poll results in more than 70 of the 182 electoral districts. The community was a strong supporter of the Congress until the 1970s. In the 1980s, when the Congress came up with the KHAM (Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi, Muslim) formula, it switched allegiance to the BJP.