Ahmedabad: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is finding that the Assembly elections in the state are not going to be an easy affair. His main concern is Saurashtra where Leuva Patels dominate and directly impact the results of 36 seats out of the 52 in the region.
A traditional votebank of the BJP, the Leuva Patels are not happy with the Modi government. Keshubhai Patel, who quit the BJP to form the Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP), has complicated the matters and all the parties are eyeing Leuva Patels to ensure victory of their candidates in Saurashtra. However, the community leaders are yet to open their cards.
The BJP released the candidates list for the first phase on Thursday in which 84 names have been included. The names of three candidates will be announced a in a few days. The BJP did not give tickets to seven MLAs in its first list.
There is a political saying that the party winning Saurashtra rules Gujarat. Almost 20 per cent of Saurashtra voters are from the Leuva community but this time the equations seem to have changed. But it would not be right to say that the community has come close to Keshubhai Patel even as it has maintained a distance from Modi. Modi's opponents are leaving no stones unturned in trying to exploit the situation to their advantage and to defeat the Gujarat Chief Minister.
BJP leaders are trying to limit the damage due to the change in the mood of Saurashtra voters. The party is going all out to protect its votebank and is keen to show that it is a well-wisher of Leuva Patels. The BJP had won 44 seats out of 58 seats in Saurashtra when Keshubhai become Gujarat's chief minister. The region played a crucial role in Modi's victories in the previous Assembly elections too. If Modi scores a hat-trick of victories, then also this region will have a major role to play and even if he plays Saurashtra will have the last laugh.