It is almost certain that Patidar leader Naresh Patel may extend a helping hand to Congress in the Gujarat Assembly elections this year-end. Vibes of India has decoded Patel’s personality and his clout for its readers
Why is Naresh Patel important
Naresh Patel is the chairman of the influential Khodaldham Trust, a huge organisation of the Leuva Patel sect of the Patidar community. It is worth noting that this community commands a huge following in the Saurashtra region. It is here that Congress got maximum seats in the 2017 elections and brought the BJP close to defeat.
The trust has hosted prominent leaders from the Congress and BJP including Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Patel is the youngest son of Ravji Bhai C Patel, originally a Congressman, who set up a small brass parts factory in Rajkot district. This factory has now expanded like an empire under the leadership of Naresh Patel and manufactures and supplies bearings to steamers and helicopters across the world. By now, the bearings manufactured by Naresh Patel’s firm are being exported to 22 countries as diverse as Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, the U.K. among others. Central Public Sector Undertaking Hindustan Aeronautics also buys bearings made by Patel Brass Works and they are used in helicopters.
Patel community in Gujarat
Patel community is one of the most influential communities in Gujarat. Patidars are estimated to constitute around 1.5 crores of Gujarat’s 6.5 crore population. The statistics are significant. Patel voters account for 15 percent of the population in the State, 32 percent in the House, and 26 percent in the State cabinet. Patels are the economic force of the State. Members of this community dominate many sectors in Gujarat ranging from pharmaceuticals, port development to the steel industry, food business among others. Patels are well represented in both Houses of Parliament. In Narendra Modi’s cabinet, the prominent members of this community are Mansukh Mandaviya and Pursottam Rupala.
The word ‘Patidar’ describes “one who owns a strip of land”.
In medieval India, members of the community were among the more industrious farmers. Rulers of the erstwhile princely states made them tenants of the best and largest tracts of land in their kingdoms. Patels have several sub-sects but Leuva and Kadva are the most prominent. The Patidars, who were categorized as Patels for the first time by the British in 1931, believe that the Leuvas and Kadvas are descendants of Luv and Kush — Lord Rama’s sons. It is therefore not surprising why the Patels of Gujarat supported the Ram Mandir movement and were singularly responsible for electing the first BJP majority government in Gujarat in 1995. This was also the reason Keshubhai Patel was made the Chief Minister instead of Shankarsinh Vaghela.
Naresh Patel–the link to Patidars of Gujarat
Be it Congress or BJP, political parties are doing their best to woo Naresh Patel as he can influence the fate of the Gujarat 2022 elections. Previously, Naresh Patel could not just hugely influence the Leuva Patels in the Saurashtra region but could also end the ages-old animosity between the Leuva and Kadva Patels. This animosity could be compared with that between the Sunnis and Shias in 2020.