The BJP may be looking at a tough fight in the Patel strongholds in the northern part of the state, where the community had supported Hardik Patel and his Patidar agitation in large numbers.
The Congress led in 17 assembly segments in the state during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, of which 12 were in the phase two districts. Several of these districts are home territory for Hardik Patel – Mhesana being the epicentre. Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani, too, are contesting from north Gujarat.
The Patels, who constitute 12-14 per cent of Gujarat’s population, were once the BJP’s most loyal votebank. In fact, they powered the BJP’s rise in the state in the 1990s.
But the enormous size of Hardik’s rallies signal that the BJP cannot take the community’s vote for granted this election season.
However, it is still not clear which way the Patels will sway.
Source : timesofindia