Gujarat polls: In epicentre of Patidar protest, anger at BJP but not Modi

The well-tarred road leading to Mehsana—dotted with factories, offices, establishments and agricultural fields on either side—presents a perfect picture of ‘vikas’ (development) and prosperity here.

Published: 02nd December 2017 11:10 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd December 2017 02:38 PM   |  A+A-

Patidar community members during their rally for reservation in Ahmedabad. |PTI

MEHSANA (GUJARAT): The well-tarred road leading to Mehsana—dotted with factories, offices, establishments and agricultural fields on either side—presents a perfect picture of ‘vikas’ (development) and prosperity here.

Hardly 75 kms away from Ahmedabad, Mehsana, the home district of PM Narendra Modi, looks more of an extension of the capital city.

But enter Mehsana, the bastion of the Patidar community, particulary the Kadwa faction, and one comes across a deep sense of deprivation, largely among the jobless youth who come from families with small landholdings.

This is in sharp contrast to top names like Karsanbhai Patel of the Rs 2,600 crore Nirma group and Chandubhai Patel of Vimal Industries, who have their roots in Mehsana.

This election, the mood in Mehsana—the epicentre of Patidar protests which erupted back in 2015 and spiralled out of control and ended up in the deaths of 14 men at the hands of security forces—is that of anger and displeasure with the BJP. With a clarion call given by the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), whose leader Hardik Patel has decided to back Congress, to defeat the saffron party—Mehsana is witnessing a pitched battle between BJP and the Congress.

Gazing at the sky at his home in Gautam Nagar society, an elderly Manabhai Shambhudas Patel, the grandfather of Mayur Patel, who died after he was shot at by the police during Patidar agitation in 2015, says he is still awaiting a ‘reply’ from the PM regarding killing of Mayur, who was pursuing his MBA.
Ask him if he is angry with Modi, he just smiles.

“I am not angry with Modiji. Lekin jawab toh dena padega unko. On whose orders did police open fire on Mayur and others.” “Mayur had gone out to buy milk and they shot him dead,” says Manabhai. Mayur’s father, Natwarlal Manabhai Patel works in Nirma company.

Asked whether BJP has a chance of coming back to power in Gujarat, Manabhai says: “All Gujaratis are angry with him. People are facing problems, be it education, jobs and if people question and protest, then you (BJP) will open fire and kill our people.  BJP talks only falsehood. They talk of development. Is this called development where they are killing people?”

In the same breath, he is all praise for Hardik. “Hardik is a good boy and does not talk falsehood like the BJP. Meet anyone and they will tell you the same,” he adds. Hardik belongs to the Kadva faction. Back at Modhera crossroads, which saw the beginning of the Patidar protests, Rohit Patel and his friends are getting ready for a bike rally. “Unemployment is rampant among Patidars. When the government can give quotas for other communities, why should we be left behind to suffer?

Hardly 75 km away from Ahmedabad, Mehsana, the home district of PM Narendra Modi, looks more of an extension of the capital city.

But enter Mehsana, the bastion of the Patidar community, particulary the Kadwa faction, and one comes across a deep sense of deprivation, largely among the jobless youth who come from families with small landholdings.

This is in sharp contrast to top names like Karsanbhai Patel of the Rs 2,600 crore Nirma group and Chandubhai Patel of Vimal Industries, who have their roots in Mehsana. This election, the mood in Mehsana—the epicentre of Patidar protests—is that of anger and displeasure with the BJP. With a clarion call given by the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), whose leader Hardik Patel has decided to back Congress, to defeat the saffron party—Mehsana is witnessing a pitched battle between BJP and the Congress.

“I am not angry with Modiji. On whose orders did police open fire on Mayur and others. I am waiting for his reply,” says Manabhai Shambhudas Patel, the grandfather of Mayur Patel, who died after he was shot at by the police during Patidar agitation in 2015. “All Gujaratis are angry with Modi. People are facing problems, be it education, jobs and if people question and protest, then you (BJP) will open fire and kill our people. BJP talks only falsehood. They talk of development. Is this called development where they are killing people?.

He is all praise for Hardik. “Hardik is a good boy and does not talk falsehood like the BJP. Meet anyone and they will tell you the same,” he adds. Hardik belongs to the Kadva faction.

“Unemployment is rampant among Patidars. When the government can give quotas for other communities, why should we be left behind to suffer? I have seen many of my acquaintances of other communities qualifying for the same jobs which we apply for. Other communities get college admissions easily while we don’t. Why this disparity?” asks Rohit Patel.

His friend Anubhav Patel says the entire Patidar community has become one to oust BJP. “They killed our people, lathicharged us and even sent us to jail. Despite this, we have emerged stronger.”
“Rahul’s visit was also significant because it was after several years, or decades that someone from Gandhi family visited Mehsana. Before him, it was Indira Gandhi,” says Jaybhai Patel adding that Mehsana will be a test for both, the BJP and the Congress. Some here say they have benefited from Modi’s schemes.

Patels make up for around 14 per cent of Gujarat’s population. In Mehsana, Patidars play a decisive role in ensuring victory for a party or a particular candidate.

Stay up to date on all the latest The Sunday Standard news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

facebook twitter whatsapp