The pursuit of power and the lure of gain could often lead to the collapse of all ideologies. It explains why Hardik Patel, once portrayed as an incendiary boy who rocked the mighty BJP in his own home, joined the same dispensation he was determined to dismantle on Thursday.
He often called Union Home Minister Amit Shah “General Dyer”, alleged that the BJP had offered him Rs 1,200 crore and was fiercely critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s economic policies, among others things. In a reversal now, Patel is profusely praising the BJP government, including its decision to revoke Section 370, and calling Congress “anti-Hindu” and “anti-Gujarat.”
After the leader of the OBC, Alpesh Thakor, the genius of Narendra Modi however neutralized yet another of the three young Turks who had brought the ruling party dangerously close to defeat in 2017. Against a simple majority of 92 seats, the BJP in scored 99 – the first time it has fallen into double digits since coming to power in Gujarat in 1995.
It was Hardik Patel’s powerful agitation that began in July 2015, demanding a reservation for the Patidars, that ironically took its toll on Anandiben Patel – Gujarat’s first female Chief Minister, who was herself a Patidar. The shocking atrocities that followed against Dalits in the town of Una in July 2016 only accelerated this process and saw the rise of Jignesh Mevani. And out of this crisis emerged Alpesh Thakor, providing Congress with a unique opportunity to combine Patidars, OBCs and Dalits into one platform – which was unprecedented in the political history of Gujarat.
While Jignesh has now embraced Congress, with whose external support he won the 2017 election, the other two are done and dusted off.
With only 7% Dalit voters in Gujarat, Jignesh is just a huge nuisance for the BJP, but not one who could upset the ruling party’s apple basket as it aspires to break the 1985 Congress record by winning 149 out of 182 Gujarat assembly seats. December polls.
The BJP won 7 out of 13 Scheduled Caste seats in 2017. Already 2012 Congress winner Manibhai Vaghela of Vadgam, who had to vacate his seat to let Mevani run as an independent, joined the BJP.
Hardik Patel was already falling from the lofty stature he gained during the Patidar turmoil when he was unable to even secure municipal election tickets for his supporters in February 2021. As a result, the leaders of his own Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) backed the Aam Aadmi party in Surat Municipal Corporation polls and 24 of its Patel and three OBC candidates won 27 seats in a chamber of 120, leaving Congress with a zero – compared to no less than 36 he had won in the 2015 SMC polls.
Hardik held Congress in suspense for nearly a year, constantly sulking at not having received his due as he was “singularly” instrumental in Congress’ best performance of 78 seats, including Mevani’s, in 2017 .
Interestingly, all of his complaints and the words he used to convey them bore a striking similarity to those of Alpesh Thakor, prior to his decision to leave Congress in 2019. The same could be said of several others, who skipped from the Congress ship to dive. in the greener pastures of the BJP.
Although the Congress party suffers from a systemic problem and a lack of leadership, Hardik Patel had little reason to be a whiner, given that he was Gujarat’s youngest active Congress President and a real poster.
On the other hand, the BJP does not need a Patel face that Hardik could replace since the party is full of them and a large majority of Patidar voters are with the ruling party. The latest proof of this is the local elections in February-March 2021.
In rural areas, the BJP captured all 31 district panchayats for which elections were held and the Congress recorded a zero. In contrast, in the 2015 local body elections held under the shadow of Patidar turmoil, the Congress won as many as 24 out of Gujarat’s 30 district panchayats. These are the rural areas of Gujarat where Hardik’s Patidar agitation had the maximum impact in 2015.
It is also known that all 26 Lok Sabha seats were pocketed by the BJP in 2019, with even the lowest margin of gain being 1.25 lakh at the Dahod tribal seat. There were 15 BJP candidates who won by a staggering margin of 3.5 lakh votes and Gujarat BJP President CR Paatil set a national record with a margin of victory of almost 7 lakh votes – more than even Narendra Modi.
Sources claim that the BJP welcomes Hardik to neutralize him with the same logic with which he disfigured Alpesh Thakor. Thakor won from Radhanpur on a Congress ticket in 2017 and lost from the same seat on a BJP ticket in the ensuing by-election. Patel joins the BJP hoping the criminal charges against him will be dropped, allowing him to run in the next election on a BJP ticket and become an MP.