Caste matrix threatens saffron citadel of Gujarat

Kshatriya-vs-Patidar rift intensifies over Purushottam Rupala’s remarks
Caste matrix threatens saffron citadel of Gujarat

AHMEDABAD : In a complex caste maze of Gujarat in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP appears to be running the risk of falling between two stools – the Kshatriyas and the powerful Patidars. The former wants the party to replace its candidate and Union Minister Purushottam Rupala from the Rajkot seat for his gratuitous remark on the community (he later apologized with little impact). The Patidar community to which Rupala belongs has let it be known that it stands solidly behind him.

For the past week, the Kshatriya community, also known as Rajput, has been staging protests following Rupala’s remarks made during an event. Things have come to such a pass that on Saturday a section of the Kshatriya community’s women threatened ‘johar’ (self-immolation) if Rupala insisted on his candidature for the constituency. Simultaneously, the state police have detained Mahipal Makrana, the national president of Karni Sena. Meanwhile, former Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani expressed confidence that the issue will be resolved soon. In a media interaction, Rupani said: “Rupala sahab has already apologized). The Kshatriya community has forgiven many in the past. I am sure the issue will be resolved.”

The Patidar community members have taken to social media to voice their support for Rupala. Jyoti Tilwa, a BJP leader and a prominent figure within the community, penned a message urging unity. In her message, Tilwa wrote: “Even after apologizing, it is not appropriate for anyone to have such concerns. Let us wake up, and support Rupala sahib,” the message read.

Other members of the Patidar community, too, took to social media to back Rupala.

Lalit Vasoya, the Congress Lok Sabha candidate from Porbandar and a prominent leader within the Patidar community, has accused the ruling BJP of attempting to create discord between the two communities.

The Patidar voters wield considerable sway with an estimated dominance over 40 Assembly seats out of 182 and more than seven Lok Sabha seats of the total 26. In 2017, the Patidar agitation spearheaded by Hardik Patel intensified demands for reservation, resulting in significant repercussions for the BJP. The party experienced a notable setback, securing only 99 seats in the Assembly out of 182.

Recognizing the importance of Patidar support, the BJP strategically fields candidates from the community in key constituencies. For instance, Rupala is nominated for the Rajkot Lok Sabha seat, while Mansukh Mandaviya contests from the Porbandar seat, both representing the Patidar community.

These constituencies fall within the Saurashtra zone of Gujarat, comprising areas with a significant Patidar voter base, including Morbi, Tankara, Gondal, Dhoraji, Amreli, Savarkundla, Jetpur, Rajkot East, Rajkot West, and Rajkot South assembly seats.

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express