Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s upcoming visit to Gujarat has been cancelled after the Anandiben Patel-led BJP Government in the state did not give permission for programme at the chosen venue.
Kejriwal’s Gujarat visit appeared to be 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, Kejriwal was scheduled to cover 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 Other Backward Class 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.
Arvind Kejriwal, who first visited Gujarat in 2014 in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections, was likely to meet the Patidar agitation leader Hardik Patel, who is lodged at the Lojpore Central Jail in Surat on sedition charges.
Kejriwal’s visit came close on the heels of the party’s announcement that it will contest all 182 assembly seats in Gujarat.