As the BJP yet again secures an emphatic victory in the Gujarat Municipal Elections contested on 576 seats, the Indian National Congress’ rout is alarming for the supporters of the Grand Old Party. As the counting is still underway, Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party has gained at the expense of the INC in some Patidar dominated pockets in Surat. However, the Patidar votes won’t shift to the AAP and will return to the BJP, come Gujarat Assembly Elections in 2022 as the hard work of PM Modi towards the development of the state pays off.
At the time of writing, the BJP was leading in all the six municipal corporations which went to polls and overall, was leading in 464 seats while the INC was trailing far behind with 46 seats with 38 seats left to be counted. Such a sweep despite decades of anti-incumbency is indeed encouraging for BJP. While in Surat, Congress is hurtling in single digits, AAP seems to have gained at its expense as it’s leading in Patidar dominated wards and thereby getting an entry into the state.
However, AAP’s minor gains won’t translate to seats in the Vidhan Sabha elections. This time around, the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti decided to support AAP and hence the party gained a few seats.
Even during the peak of the Patidar movement, despite leaders like Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mewani and Alpesh Thakor, the movement couldn’t turn the tide in favour of the Congress as the BJP won the Vidhan Sabha elections by securing 99 seats in the 182 Member Assembly.
Despite the spearhead of the Patidar agitation of 2015 – Hardik Patel calling the shots in Gujarat Congress, the party’s extremely poor performance is a sign that the Patidar agitation is no longer a factor in Gujarat. In fact, the Patidar community isn’t as backward as Hardik Patel claimed it to be. However, this fact couldn’t be understood by Congress and even after being in advantage, the party miserably lost the Assembly polls.
The truth is that the Patidars as a caste group are one of the most affluent. They do not vote en masse for one party unlike Yadavs in Bihar or the Muslim vote banks. Right now the movement is not even at its peak. Patidars are further divided now that AAP has made an entry.
It is pertinent to note that all 33 AAP candidates for the Gujarat Assembly elections in 2017 had lost their deposits. With an increasingly waning INC, AAP can chip away with a few anti-BJP votes and manage to retain the deposits of its candidates but it will certainly not transpire into seats.
The already divided Patidars may not be tempted to vote for either the Congress or the AAP if they want their vote to count. The Patidar Andolan is weak, and the Narendra Modi factor is still strong. Kejriwal, on the other hand, has no appeal in Gujarat and come 2022, the BJP is all set to regain the Patidar electorate.