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Kejriwal gears up to win over Patidars during Gujarat visit

June 29, 2016 06:41 AM

COURSTEY THE HINDUSTAN TIMESJUNE 29
Hiral Dave letters@hindustantimes.com
Kejriwal gears up to win over Patidars during Gujarat visit
THE PATIDARS WIELD CONSIDERABLE POLITICAL, ECONOMIC CLOUT IN THE STATE AND HAVE PLAYED A KEY ROLE IN DECIDING WHO FORMS THE GOVT IN GUJARAT

AHMEDABAD: Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s upcoming Gujarat visit appears geared towards wooing the influential Patidar community that is moving away from its traditional loyalty towards the BJP over a demand for quotas in jobs and education.
During his July 9-10 tour, the AAP leader is scheduled the Somnath-Rajkot belt in Saurashtra and Surat in south Gujarat, both bastions of the Patidar community that is disgruntled with the state BJP administration. The state goes to the polls next year.
The BJP suffered a drubbing in recent local body polls after the Patidar community moved its support away, following months of violent protests across the state for OBC status, which would guarantee them reservations.
In April, the state government finally blinked and gave 10% reservations to the poor among dominant castes but the move failed to tamp down on simmering discontent.
The Patidars wield enormous political and economic power in the state and have been instrumental behind the Congress holding power for three decades between the 60s and 90s, and the BJP since.
The AAP is now looking to benefit from the Patidars’ disgruntlement. On June 9, Kejriwal is expected to offer prayers at the Somnath temple and address three rallies of farmers – most of whom are Patidars – in Junagadh and Rajkot districts. The next day, he will visit Surat and meet local businessmen and industrialists.
Kejriwal, who first visited Gujarat in 2014 in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections, might meet 23-year-old Patidar agitation leader Hardik Patel, who is lodged at the Lojpore Central Jail in Surat on sedition charges. “A detailed itinerary of his visit will be out soon,” said AAP’s Gujarat coordinator Harshil Nayak.

Earlier this month through a video message on social media, Kejriwal termed Hardik’s arrest as illegal. The community responded by putting up banners thanking the Delhi CM.

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