| Gujarat Elections: Why is Congress adhering to Hardik Patel's demands? |
21 Nov 2017
|Hardik Patel and Congress have been involved in some hard-nosed negotiations for the upcoming Gujarat elections.
Hardik has been giving Congress deadlines, threatening it with consequences like disrupting rallies, attacking Congress offices and withdrawing his support.
However, the grand old party has been molly-cuddling him and agreeing to his demands.
Why does the 24-year-old Hardik have such a sway? Read on to know!
| In 2012, Patidar vote was fractured for the first time |
|In 2012, BJP strongman Keshubhai Patel floated his own party. The Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) contested for 167 seats but won just two. Targeting Modi, Keshubhai's GPP was contesting on the "injustice to Patidars" plank.
GPP managed to grab 3.66% of the vote-share, cutting into anti-BJP votes that would have otherwise gone to Congress.
Hardik's role this year would probably be comparable to GPP's.
| Is BJP feeling the Hardik heat? |
|As Hardik's rallies attract huge crowds, BJP faces apprehension about losing Patidar vote, its backbone since 1995.
In this election, as more than half the voters are under 40 years, BJP may be anxious about the youth support that Hardik enjoys.
Further, to off-set the Hardik challenge, BJP has also managed to woo PAAS' four key members like Chirag Patel and Ketan Patel.
| Why is the Patidar vote-share so important? |
|Patidars account for about 1/8th of Gujarat's 6cr population. In about 71 of the 182 seats, Patidars constitute 15% of the electorate; thus, if they vote as a group, they could swing the verdict. High-concentration Patidar seats are Varachha, Katargam, Surat North, Kamrej, Visavadar etc.|
| Why is Hardik so important for Congress? |
|Learning from the GPP experience, Congress is wooing Hardik to ensure that anti-BJP votes among the Patels are not divided.
Moreover, the 2015 Patidar agitation had benefited the Congress greatly; in the Surat municipal concentration election, the party won 33 of 116 seats, improving its tally from 11 in 2010.
With Patidar support, Congress hopes to repeat the same feat in the state polls.