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BJP prepares to retain Gujarat's Mehsana as Congress plays on caste factor

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BJP prepares to retain Gujarat's Mehsana as Congress plays on caste factor

Mehsana, April 24 (Ajit Weekly News) The electoral battle in Gujarat’s Mehsana features a contest between the BJP and the Congress as the former prepares to continue its winning streak.

The BJP has nominated 62-year-old Haribhai Patel, a prominent figure within the Kadva Patidar Samaj and the former president of the party’s unit in Mehsana district. On the other hand, the Congress party has selected 52-year-old Ramji Thakor, leader of the Rashtriya Thakor Sena, who previously contested as an independent in the last Assembly election from Kheralu, securing third place with 36,000 votes.

This strategic nomination by the Congress to field Ramji Thakor for the Mehsana Lok Sabha seat, and Dinesh Patel in the Bijapur Assembly by-election is seen as an attempt to capitalize on the current discontent within the Kshatriya community against BJP’s Purushottam Rupala. The decision comes after a 26-year hiatus in giving a Thakor candidate a ticket in this constituency, reflecting a tactical move to sway the considerable number of Thakor and Patidar votes.

Haribhai Patel, representing a significant cadre within the Patidar community, is from Sunok village in Unjha taluka, Mehsana district. His prior roles include chairman of the Standing Committee of the district panchayat and president of the Mehsana district BJP organisation. He steps into the fray as Shardaben Patel, the outgoing BJP representative, announced her decision not to seek re-election.

Mehsana is a pivotal Lok Sabha constituency for the BJP, and it is historically significant as it is here the party secured its first-ever seat nationally. Since its debut win in 1984, the BJP has consistently dominated here, with A.K. Patel being the first to represent the party.

Mehsana is the district where Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hometown Vadnagar is situated and is also the birthplace of the Patidar reservation movement. In a historical context, it was one of the two Lok Sabha seats the BJP won in 1984 during a national Congress wave, highlighting its long-standing political significance.

Over the years, Mehsana has been a stronghold for the BJP. However, it faced defeat when Congress won in 1999 and 2004. Senior BJP leader Nitin Patel lost by a margin of 14,000 votes in 2014.

Mehsana is particularly noted for its substantial Patel population, especially the Kadva Patel subgroup, which has a significant political influence in the region. This influence was prominently displayed during the Patidar reservation movement spearheaded by Hardik Patel.

According to the 2011 census, Mehsana has a population of 20,22,310, with a majority living in rural areas (74.15 per cent) and a smaller urban population (25.85 per cent). The Scheduled Caste (SC) community makes up 7.61 per cent of the population, while the Scheduled Tribe (ST) presence is minimal.

The constituency includes Assembly seats such as Unjha, Visnagar, Mehsana, Becharaji, Vijapur, Mansa, and Kadi, reinforcing its role as a crucial political hub in North Gujarat. Recent figures show 16,11,134 registered voters, indicating robust democratic participation in the area.

In 2019, it featured BJP’s Shardaben Patel and Congress’s A.J. Patel among 12 candidates. The BJP maintained its stronghold, with Shardaben Patel winning the election. Interestingly, the NOTA (None of the Above) option ranked third, reflecting some voters’ disenchantment.

In 2014, BJP’s Jayshree Patel secured the seat against Congress’s Jivabhai Patel, reflecting the strong BJP influence in the constituency.

The constituency goes to polls on May 7

–Ajit Weekly News

janvi/dpb


News Credits – I A N S

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