The trend of voting against the wave has earned Mehsana district the trademark of being a ‘political laboratory’ in Gujarat.
Since Independence, 17 elections for the Lok Sabha have taken place. The voters of Mehsana Lok Sabha seat have given varied results in contrast with the general trend and the mood of the nation. It saw an independent candidate from Swatantra Party win in 1967, one from the Bharatiya Lok Dal in 1977, then Janata Party in 1980 and later the Congress and the BJP.
The district has seven Assembly seats. In 2007, BJP won all seven; in 2017 though Mehsana was the epicentre of Patidar movement, BJP won five of the seven seats. This is why it is regarded as a ‘political laboratory’ by the leaders.
This district has given big stalwart cooperative leaders like Atmaram Patel, Narottam Pitambar Patel, Shankarlal Guru, Motibhai Chaudhary, political leaders like Gangaram Raval, Shankersinh Vaghela, Narendra Modi, Anandiben Patel and Amit Shah recollects Bharat Patel, a political observer from Visnagar town in the Mehsana district.
Mehsana voters have generally voted against the wave. In 1980 when the entire nation stood with the Congress and Indira Gandhi, Mehsana voters voted for the Janata Party candidate Motibhai Chaudhary. Again in 1984, when the nation was swayed with sympathy for Congress after Indira Gandhi’s assassination, the BJP won two seats in the country. Of these two, one was Mehsana, when Dr. A.K. Patel gave the victory for the BJP. “This is one reason that the place has got the nickname of political laboratory,” said Jitubhai Patel, Congress state unit vice president and Mehsana Lok Sabha constituency in-charge.
According to Jitubhai another reason is that of all major movements, Mehsana has been an epicenter, be it the Kshatriya, OBC or Patidar movement in the state.
The district’s caste equations also makes it a social engineering laboratory, as the district is dominated by upper caste Patidars, Kshatriya Thakor (OBC), Anjana Chaudhary Patel (OBC), Dalits, Muslims, Brahmin and other communities. When they vote for a specific party or candidate, it is like sample testing of voting patterns in the state, analysed the political observer.
Post-Patidar movement, the Congress won only two Assembly seats, Unjha — dominated by Patidars and Becharaji dominated by Thakors, but it was a tough fight between the Congress and BJP. The BJP won five seats with narrow margins and this time too it is going to be a neck to neck fight between the two national parties, is the assessment of the Congress leader.
Yet, he also believes that the presence of the AAP and Cooperative leader Vipul Chaudhary, who is Anjana Chaudhary, in the election race may have some effect and it is to be seen as to how far they will divide which party’s votes. The Congress leader says it is not going to be a cakewalk for the ruling party.
The ruling party has an advantage over its political opponents. The development works carried out in the district will convert votes in favour for the BJP candidates and the party will win with thick margins, hopes Jasubhai Patel, president of BJP Mehsana District committee. He is confident of winning all seven seats and repeating the 2007 record. So is the feeling of Bharat Patel, but he is cautious too. His apprehension is that Hardik Patel in the BJP may work against the party to some extent.