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Kshatriya community’s influence reshaping Gujarat’s Lok Sabha elections

Updated: May 6th, 2024

Parshottam Rupala

The Lok Sabha elections in Gujarat have been marked by the Kshatriya community’s tumultuous display of power and determination.

The protests against alleged derogatory remarks by union minister Parshottam Rupala, who is the BJP’s Rajkot candidate, have evolved into a formidable force shaping Gujarat’s political landscape.

During a Dalit community function in Rajkot on Mar 2, BJP leader Rupala stated that while Dalits had shown unwavering dedication, Rajputs/Kshatriyas shared meals and married their daughters to heretics.

Rupala is a Patel, and his remarks on the Kshatriya community added fuel to the fire.

Kshatriyas and Patels are two important communities that influence Gujarat’s politics.

Given the “roti-beti vyavhar” comment by Rupala, the Kshatriya community organised itself, forming a coordination committee comprising 92 organisations across Gujarat.

Their demand for the withdrawal of minister Rupala’s candidature went unheeded by the BJP, leading to escalated protests and disruptions in the BJP candidates’ campaigns in Kshatriya-dominated areas.

The Kshatriya community constitutes approximately 70 lakh or 10% of Gujarat’s total population.

This demographic strength has considerable influence over electoral outcomes, particularly in key constituencies like Jamnagar, Rajkot, Surendranagar, Bhavnagar, Kutch, Banaskantha, Sabarkantha, Anand, and Bharuch.

Despite apologies from Rupala and other party leaders, the BJP stood firm, prompting a shift in the Kshatriya community’s stance.

Kshatriya agitation’s implications on Gujarat’s Lok Sabha dynamics

Initially targeting Rupala, they now pledge to vote against the BJP on all 25 Lok Sabha and five assembly seats in Gujarat, signalling a significant challenge for the ruling party.

In response to a senior Kshatriya leader’s appeal for forgiving the BJP, the community’s coordination committee reinforced its resolve on May 5, urging Rajputs to uphold their commitment to voting against the BJP over the Rupala controversy.

Karansinh Chavda of the Kshatriya coordination committee emphasised, “This is a battle of ego versus pride. We aim to achieve 100% anti-BJP voting across all 25 Lok Sabha and five assembly seats. Our non-violent protests were ignored. The BJP’s leaders continue to make divisive remarks without apology. This lack of accountability is unacceptable. Our protests will extend beyond this issue. We will demonstrate our influence in future district and panchayat elections, impacting 10-12 seats and significantly influencing local bodies.”

Congress places its bet on Paresh Dhanani

Gujarat Congress leader Paresh Dhanani is the candidate for the Rajkot seat against senior BJP leader Rupala. This decision of the Kshatriyas has elevated the importance of the Rajkot constituency in Gujarat’s political landscape.

Their move is noteworthy as Dhanani has a history of defeating Rupala, having triumphed over him in the 2002 assembly elections for the Amreli constituency.

Drawing a parallel to the disrobing of Draupadi in the Mahabharata, Dhanani emphasised the perceived insult felt by the Kshatriya community due to Rupala’s comments.

(Source: IANS)

- Edited for style