All the three young movement leaders — Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani –, who entered the political arena in 2015-16, managed to make it to the winners’ list in the Gujarat Assembly polls.
While Hardik Patel, Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti convener, led the reservation movement, Alpesh Thakor fought for OBC reservation and Jignesh Mevani stood for safeguarding the Dalits and human rights.
For Mevani and Thakor, it was a re-election but Patel was elected for the first time to the state Assembly. Both Thakor and Patel had quit Congress in the past and joined BJP and contested on election BJP symbol.
Hardik has won the election from Viramgam seat with 51,707 votes defeating Congress candidate Lakhabhai Bharvad. Had AAP candidate Amarsinh Thakor been there in the fray and polled 47,448 votes and the electorate not cast 3,253 votes to NOTA, Patel might have lost the election.
But Alpesh Thakor, who was facing dissent within the party and even from his own Thakor community polled 1,34,051 votes, and defeated Congress candidate Himanshu Patel with a margin of 43,064 votes.
Congress party’s Dalit face Jignesh Mevani faced the toughest contest as he was cornered by AAP, AIMIM and BJP candidate Manibhai Vaghela. He win triumphantly with 3,857 votes.
On other seats, where AAP has damaged Congress, on Vadgam seat AAP bailed out Mevani, as AAP candidate Dalpat Bhatia polled 2835 votes and 3811 voters used NOTA.
According to political analyst Hari Desai, BJP top brasses efforts failed to defeat Jignesh Mevani as he won the election on his fighting spirit. There are good numbers of Muslim votes, with the help of AIMIM attempted to split Muslim votes, but that strategy failed as AIMIM candidate could hardly fetch 1516 votes.
Hardik and Thakor have majorly won the elections on BJP wave. Their personal image might have helped to small extent, but major credits goes to BJP and its cadre and strategy that both have got elected this time, believes Dilip Gohil, a political analyst.
Desai adds if Thakor had influence over his Thakor community, he would have got elected in the by-election in 2019 from Radhanpur seat, but he lost.