The Patidars in Madhya Pradesh were quick off the blocks to support their counterparts in Gujarat who are seeking OBC status and reservation, but their rallies on Monday failed to touch a chord.
While the rally addressed by Hardik Patel on August 25 drew lakhs in Ahmedabad, the one held in Bhopal on Monday afternoon hardly drew a hundred people mainly because the Patidars in MP already enjoy OBC status and get reservation benefits.
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Madhya Pradesh has the second largest population of Patidars after Gujarat with which it shares a boundary. Marriages within the community in these states are not uncommon.
A few leaders from MP attended the Ahmedabad rally and announced on their return that they will also hold marches to show solidarity with Hardik Patel. On Monday, they criticized the police action in Ahmedabad, demanded a CBI probe and sought Rs 50 lakh compensation for the kin of those who died in the Gujarat agitation.
If the Monday turnout was anything to go, the ruling BJP has nothing to worry about where the Patidars are concerned except possibly in Ratlam where a by-election to the eponymous Lok Sabha constituency is due. The Madhya Pradesh Patidar Samaj Sangathan chief Mahendra Patidar said the Ratlam constituency has 70,000 Patidars and warned the BJP to ignore the community’s demands at its own peril.
In the memoranda submitted to the district collectors or their representatives on Monday the community said it had been vocal in its support to the BJP but did not get much in return.
In the last two decades not one Patidar from MP has been elected either to the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha, and in the 12 years of BJP rule not one Patidar has been made minister.
In Bhopal, the rally nearly ended in a whimper. A small procession led by bike-borne youngsters began from Misrod and wound its way to culminate in a meeting in Shahjahani Park. Youngsters who raised fists and shouted slogans throughout the route lost interest and did not attend the meeting that saw most chairs lying unoccupied.
The Patidar leaders admitted that they were disappointed by the turnout in Bhopal, Perhaps they miscalculated: no political party backed their stir — only one former Congress minister was present. Furthermore, there is no emotive issue in the state, unlike in Gujarat, as the Patidars have no major grievance against the BJP.
It seems they were seeking some attention and thought that by invoking Hardik Patel they may get it.