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Patidars stage protest against stadium renaming

A woman engaged in weaving as Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises sectors face crisis. File

A woman engaged in weaving as Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises sectors face crisis. File | Photo Credit: G.R.N. Somashekar

The Patidar trouble for the BJP in Gujarat is far from over. On Sunday, the leaders of Patidar Anamat Aandolan Samiti (PAAS) were detained while they were protesting the renaming of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Motera Stadium as Narendra Modi stadium.

This is just one among the multiple issues festering between the BJP and the Patidar community, which includes the BJP’s stand on the differences among the Swaminarayan sects, the party’s difficulty in placating community leader Naresh Patel and the overall crisis facing agriculture and the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sectors controlled by members of this community. 

“This agitation will go for long. Changing the name of Patel is like denigrating the history of Indian freedom struggle. The government can name any other stadium in the name of the Prime Minister,” said Dharmik Malviya, the convenor of PAAS.

Watch | All about Motera stadium, the largest cricket stadium in the world

Economic issues

Talking to The Hindu, he said the issues the Patidars raised during the reservation agitation in 2015 still remained relevant. “In fact, the condition of the people in the community has become worse. The use of synthetic diamond and the issues in Russia have impacted the diamond business. The price of raw materials has increased four to five-fold and small traders and producers are in trouble,” he said.

Traditionally a farming community, the Patidars cultivated cash crops such as cotton, groundnut, tobacco, chickpea and sugarcane and invested the surplus they earned in small and medium industries.

The elder generation of the Patidars still prefer villages but the issues there are many. “The price of cotton is not enough. The input cost has increased. Apart from cotton, groundnut and chickpea are our main crops. We have demanded procurement and procurement price for these products. Government offered to procure chickpea and groundnut from the farms but put limitations for procurement. So farmers had to approach private traders. The system is not functioning properly,” Mr. Malvia said.

The 2015 reservation protests emanated from such economic issues. “Families have grown bigger, but income has come down. Businesses are also not making profits. The situation became worse after demonetisation and GST,” said Rajendra Patel, a trader from Ahmedabad.

Meanwhile, the PAAS is trying to get some assurances from the government ahead of the elections. “Every section of the society is facing crisis. BJP is ruling here for the last 30 years. People thought that Narendra Modi government will help them. But price rise has touched high, particularly fuel cost. People are not getting any help. This is going to be a big issue ahead of the elections. Whoever be in the government, there should be a system to support farmers and MSMEs. We will try to get assurances from the government. If it doesn’t work, we will strengthen our protests,” Mr. Malviya said.

Hardik’s entry

However, the BJP is trying to douse the anger in its own ways.

Hardik Patel joining the BJP will have an impact against the critical voice given by Patidar leader Naresh Patel. But even within the BJP, there is confusion whether Hardik’s entry will benefit the party or not. “He has been criticising the RSS and BJP leaders all through the agitation and after joining the BJP, I don’t know if his entry will bring any benefit. But we can use him to counter Naresh Patel,” said a top Sangh Parivar functionary.

He added that the BJP leadership did a mistake by taking sides on the problems within the Swaminarayan sects. “The party should not have done that. The leaders of both the Swaminarayan sect and the Pramukh Swami sect can resolve the issues within. Party has no role in it. Now, we are trying to placate their anger against some BJP leaders,” the leader said.

Sociologist Gaurang Jani said the 12% strong community has 51 MLAs in the Assembly, much larger presence than any other community. “They are politically very important. There is a jugalbandi between the Swaminarayan sects and the Patidar community. The sects have lakhs of followers across the world. So be it the BJP, the Congress or the Aam Aadmi Party, they will try to placate the Patidar community for their social and economic strength,” Mr. Jani said and added that is one reason why the Union Government is trying to make Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as an icon of Gujarat above Mahatma Gandhi.


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Printable version | Sep 20, 2022 3:53:20 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/patidar-problem-still-remains-unresolved-for-bjp/article65520834.ece