The backbone of politics in the state

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PM Modi and Amit Shah reach out to Patidars, cooperative societies

Photo: PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today embarked on a massive Patidar outreach program in Rajkot, Gujarat where he inaugurated a multi-specialty hospital in Atkot village, the first of its kind within a radius of 50 km from Jasdan taluka.
Rajkot is the heart of the Saurashtra region, a place where the Bharatiya Janata party faced a challenge after the Patidar reserve unrest in 2015, even though it made up for losses in successive polls.

The patidars have been an important force in propelling the BJP to power and keeping the party in control since 1998.

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Atkot’s 200-bed KD Parvadiya Multi-Specialty Hospital, which the Prime Minister inaugurated, was built at a cost of RS 50 crore by the Shree Patel Seva Samaj Trust (SPSST), which is a charitable trust run by Patidar.

In the 182-seat Gujarat Assembly, the Patidars are a major factor in about 16 seats – 9 of them are in Saurashtra, 3 in North Gujarat and 4 in Surat. Apart from these, there are almost 55 seats in Gujarat where the Patels play a decisive role.

PM Modi’s connection with Rajkot goes back a long way. In 2002, he won his first election in Rajkot-II constituency, which paved the way for him to become the longest serving chief minister in the state until 2014 when he was elected prime minister. Indian.

Patidar’s story

The BJP lost a substantial portion of Patidar’s vote in the 2015 local elections that followed Patidar’s turmoil. The largely agrarian community of Patidars put its weight behind the Congress which won 134 of the 230 total tehsil panchayats, while the BJP had just 67 left. The saffron party’s rural vote was eaten up by its rival. However, in the 2017 Assembly election, the party reversed its losses by course-correcting in the intervening years between 2015 and 2017. The BJP swept the election in 2017 and the Patidar factor appeared to have a limited impact.

The passage of time has also changed allegiances in the state – the architect of the youth-led Patidar movement, Hardik Patel, once announced to be the face of Gujarat’s Congress, resigned this month amid the parade nuptials from the grand old party of Naresh Patel, the influential Kodaldham Trust and temple leader who is also Patidar.

Naresh Patel said Aam Aadmi Party, Aam Aadmi Party, Congress and BJP which started out in Gujarat all extended an invitation to him.

Meanwhile, ahead of Gujarat Assembly elections later this year, Pm Modi has already visited his home state 3 times in the space of 22 days. In April, he launched the Global Patidar Business Summit virtually which brought together entrepreneurs of all sizes from the community.

On Saturday, May 28, the Gujarat BJP machinery pulled out all the stops to make the Prime Minister’s Atkot event one of the biggest rallies addressed by a political leader in recent times.

Why cooperatives question

Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who also manages the cooperatives portfolio, is in Gujarat where alongside the Prime Minister he will attend the Sahkar Sammelan in Gandhinagar tonight. The Prime Minister will address nearly 10,000 elected representatives of various cooperative organizations.
The Prime Minister is also set to inaugurate the Nano-urea (liquid) plant built by the Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative (IFFCO) in Kalol at a cost of around Rs. 175 million rupees. The cooperative claims that it will be a revolutionary product to increase agricultural yield.

On Sunday, Shah will attend an event organized by Panchamrut Dairy and address a rally at Godhra in Panchmahal district. He also has various other commitments during the weekend visit.

Gujarat’s cooperative success story is hailed as a benchmark and model for other states. Incidentally, the Patidar community also wields considerable influence over cooperatives, which are basically jointly owned enterprises where members share the profits or benefits. Thanks to this dynamic, the cooperatives have forged strong community ties between their members. Their presidents and elected representatives have become pressure points for political parties to win the support of cooperative members.

Reports indicate that at least a third of the state’s population is directly or indirectly linked to the approximately 84,000 cooperatives in Gujarat which cover sectors such as dairy and animal husbandry, agriculture, fisheries, consumption , irrigation, cooperative banks and APMCs.

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