Bharat shows the way, Leuvas warm up to Modi
The politically powerful Leuva Patel community in Saurashtra is showing signs of warming up to Narendra Modi, after leading a fierce campaign against him in the 2012 Assembly elections.
The Khodaldham Trust, which runs the temple of the community's deity at Kagvad near Rajkot, has invited Modi for its mega farmers' meet on January 21. This is in contrast to the foundation-laying ceremony for the temple in January 2012, when a massive gathering of nearly 25 lakh Leuva Patels presided over by Keshubhai Patel, soon turned into a proxy anti-Modi rally. Modi, was not invited to that gathering nor to two subsequent functions.
"We have sent an invite to the Chief Minister. Cannot comment further as he is yet to respond to our invite," said Naresh Patel, a leading trustee of the Khodaldham Trust.
However, the softening of Leuva community — which has held Modi responsible for the ouster of Keshubhai as CM in 2001 and the subsequent sidelining of other political leaders from the community - became evident when the Saurashtra heavyweight Vithal Radadiya, along with his MLA son
Jayesh Radadiya, left Congress to join BJP following Modi's Assemblt victory a year back.
Last week, the return of Keshubhai's son Bharat Patel, to the BJP fold, too sent a strong signal on the changing tides. Bharat resigned from the BJP last year to support his father's new outfit Gujarat Parivartan Party. The GPP, which was formed only three months before 2012 December Assembly elections, though won only 2 seats, but riding on Leuva Patel support had caused damage in 15 seats in Saurashtra. The community with strong roots in both agriculture and industries has dominance over 20 of the 182 Assembly seats in the state.