Madhya PradeshState

Alpesh and Hardik add to BJP’s worries with resentment in OBC

When chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is apparently trying to placate the agitated farmers in the state a sizeable section of whom comes from OBC, Gujarat leaders like Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakor’s visits to Madhya Pradesh only add to the ruling party’s worries.

Alpesh, the OBC leader from Gujarat was in Bhopal this month. During his stay he laid bare his plan on working on unity among backward classes to take on the ruling party BJP in poll bound Madhya Pradesh. There was a similar resolve by Hardik Patel, a youth icon of the OBC in Gujarat, in Bhopal on Monday when he addressed a gathering.

Alpesh went on to say he would try to bring various sections of society- SC, ST, OBC and minorities on a common platform, which, he said, were still backward despite reservation to them in government jobs.

Hardik was arrested in Neemuch in June last year when he was on his way to meet families of the farmers in Mandsaur, who were killed in a police firing. Four of the 5 persons who were killed in the police firing were from Patidar community.

Needless to mention, BJP has been enjoying tremendous support from the OBC in Madhya Pradesh since 2003 assembly elections, whose contribution to the BJP’s victory in 2003, 2008 and 2013 assembly elections couldn’t have gone unnoticed. While BJP has been banking on the OBC support by projecting an OBC leader as its face in all these assembly elections since 2003, the Congress chose Arun Yadav, an OBC face, as its leader more than two years back, who is still heading the party now. The OBC vote bank is more than 50% in Madhya Pradesh.

“The party is closely watching these leaders’ moves in Madhya Pradesh. It cannot be said that the party is not worried but it remains to be seen how they play their cards in the coming months. The BJP will respond accordingly. However, we are confident that it’s not an easy task for leaders like Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakor who come from another state to counter the charisma of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Madhya Pradesh”, said a senior BJP leader on condition of anonymity.

Political analyst Girijashankar said, “I don’t think they would be able to make inroads in the BJP’s vote bank easily and thus help Congress. A leader has to work continuously in any state to make his presence felt. Had Hardik Patel worked for a few months in Madhya Pradesh at a stretch after Mandsaur police firing when the farmers were seething with rage he would have definitely been able to win over the OBC in the state by now. A thin presence during his meeting at Bhopal is a glaring proof of the same.”

Resentment in OBC prevails over the state government’s denial to waive the loans taken by the farmers, failure in ensuring profit to the farmers over the input cost of agriculture, no punishment to the police officers who were involved in firing on farmers in Mandsaur, inflated power bills, the state government’s all out support to the SC/ST in their fight for reservation in government jobs etc.

Mahesh Patidar, president of Patidar Samaj, Neemuch says Hardik Patel aims at uniting the other backward classes in the state. People have faith in him.

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