Updated: June 17, 2022 3:00:05 am
Patidar leader and industrialist Naresh Patel on Thursday announced that he is not joining politics “for now” as the elders of his community are against the idea but added that his organisation will launch an academy to train youth in politics.
Patel, the chairman of Shree Khodaldham Trust (SKT), a religious organisation of Leuva Patel
sub-caste group of Patidar community, chaired a joint meeting of trustees of the SKT, Shree Sardar Patel Cultural Foundation (SSPCF) and Shree Leuva Patel Atithibhavan (SLPA), Veraval, at Khodaldham, a temple complex built by SKT in Kagvad village near Jetpur in Rajkot Thursday morning.
Addressing a press conference after the meeting, Patel said that a survey conducted by the SKT on whether he should join politics or not, had shown that the members of his Leuva Patel community as well as others who participated in the survey were divided over the issue and that he had decided to go by the advise of the elders.
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“As many as 80 per cent of youth want me to join politics. Likewise, 50 per cent of women also favour the idea of me joining politics. However, elders of the community are completely against the idea,” said Patel.
Claiming that he was sensitive to the concerns of the elders of the community and the organisation of the community at large, Patel added, “If I join any political party, I will have to be loyal to that party and may not be able to work for all communities… the concerns of the community elders were justified. A lot of Khodaldham’s projects in education, health and agriculture sectors that concern every community, are still incomplete. I have decided to take these projects forward and try to extend the benefits to every community in Gujarat. Therefore, I am not joining politics for now.”
Patidars dominate politics in Gujarat by virtue of being the single largest organised group of voters in the state. They are divided mainly into two sub-caste groups—Leuva Patels and Kadva Patels. While Leuvas are concentrated largely in Saurashtra, central and south Gujarat regions, Kadva Patels dominate the north Gujarat region.
Saurashtra has 48 Assembly constituencies and 20 of them are dominated by voters of Patidar community.
Announcing that SKT will set up an academy to train the youth in politics, Patel said, “Just like Khodaldham runs coaching classes… under the aegis of Khodaldham, we are announcing to set up Khodaldham Political Academy and we invite youth of every community to join it.”
SSPCF provides coaching to youth for competitive examinations, including those conducted by the GPSC (Gujarat Public Service Commission). Patel is chairman of SKT, SSPCF as well as SLPA.
In December 2021, Patel announced about his intention to join politics but had been maintaining that he would acertain his community’s views ove the matter before taking a final call. The social leader had reportedly met top Congress leaders in recent weeks.
On Thursday, he refused to talk about his political meetings after announcing his intention to join politics. “For now, this is a closed chapter and therefore discussing its details will be irrelevant,” he said, adding that he would continue to work for unity between Leuva Patel and Kadva Patel sub-caste groups.
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