Test By Trouble
- A sudden agitation demanding OBC status for Patels has caught chief minister Anandiben Patel off guard
- It’s led by Hardik Patel, who is in his early 20s. CM’s rivals may be at work.
- Protests are largely in Mehsana, home district of both Anandiben and Narendra Modi
- Six of the eight municipal corporations go to the polls in Sept-Oct
- The results could be affected if the agitation is not contained
- This is the first major test for Anandiben’s political skills
Politics in India has a way of turning on its head when the caste card comes into play—usually around election time, when community leaders strike the gong to tell politicians in power it’s payback time. With elections to self-government bodies in Gujarat due in September-October, chief minister Anandiben Patel will face her first test after having taken over from Narendra Modi, who moved to Delhi as prime minister last year after a 12-year stint in the state. But right now, Gujarat’s first woman chief minister is facing another challenge, one from her own Patidar community: an agitation in north Gujarat, led by a young upstart called Hardik Patel, is rekindling the old, sporadically raised demand of other backward classes (OBC) reservation for Patidars (or Patels).