Patel party a big threat to Modi?

While Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi is busy marketing “brand Modi” and harping on about his commitment for the state, Saurashtra — a region dominated by the Patel community in his state — is being seen as a “danger zone” by the poll pundits for Mr Modi.

If the recent verdict in the Naroda-Patiya case of post-Godhra riots is expected to affect BJP’s poll prospects, former BJP leader and Patel strongman, Keshubhai Patel’s newly-formed Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) is likely to pose a major threat to Mr Modi’s ambition of comfortably winning the coming Assembly polls for the third time in a row.
Out of the total 182 Assembly constituencies, more than 40 fall in the Saurashtra region where BJP had been defeating its arch rival Congress with a slender margin. With the GPP deciding to contest at all the Assembly seats, including in the Saurashtra region, it will only dent BJP’s votebank. If this happen, it will also affect Mr Modi’s plan of playing a larger role in the national political scenario. Mr Modi is considered to be an aspirant for the Prime Minister’s post.
Though the Patel community is considered as BJP’s traditional vote bank, the community also votes for the Congress. Mr Keshubhai Patel, who has been critical of Mr Modi’s style of functioning, has a strong clout in the region, which has left the BJP worried. While Mr Modi has been busy reaching out to the younger generation and trying to get an image makeover, Mr Patel has been focusing his election campaign in the Saurashtra region, including Rajkot, Junagarh and Jamnagar, where the Patel community dominates.
Mr Keshubhai Patel, who was leading the dissident camp against Mr Modi, quit the saffron party and formed his own outfit in August after the BJP leadership refused to act on his demand of leadership change in Gujarat.
Adding to Mr Modi’s trouble, the delimitation exercise has drastically changed the electoral profile in his state.

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