Even after 66 years of Independence, Indian politics is yet to break free from the shackles of caste, especially during elections. No we are not talking about UP, Bihar or Rajasthan. Caste is used as a trump card even in progressive states like Gujarat, too. This is why both BJP and Congress have kept this factor in mind while choosing candidates for a particular constituency.
In North Gujarat, both the parties have fielded one candidate each from Patidar, Chaudhary, Rajput and Thakor communities. BJP and Congress have given tickets to Patidar in Mehsana, Rajput in Sabarkantha, Thakor in Patan and Chaudhary in Banaskantha Lok Sabha constituencies.
A similar strategy has been adopted for the Saurashtra region, too, which is dominated by the Koli and Patidar communities. Again, BJP and Congress have given representation to Koli candidates in Junagadh and Bhavnagar, the two seats heavily dominated by the community.
The Aahir community, incidentally, is neither in a majority nor the deciding factor for Jamnagar seat. Still, BJP followed the Congress by fielding an Aahir candidate. The Congress has repeated sitting MP Vikram Maadam, while BJP has fielded Khambhaliya MLA Poonam Maadam, both distant relatives.
Incidentally, the Congress has repeated sitting MP from Rajkot and Koli leader Kunvarji Bawaliya, while BJP has decided to field Kadva Patidar candidate Mohan Kundariya. The BJP has tried to strike a balance between Leuva and Kadva communities as Vitthal Radadia, the sitting BJP MP from Porbandar, belongs to the Leuva Patidar community.
Being in a majority, Kshatriya and Patidar voters could be the decisive factor in poll play.
Naturally, the BJP and the Congress have selected candidates taking this into consideration. Unlike Saurashtra, the parties have not fielded candidates from the same set of community for the Anand and Kheda seats.
Against sitting Congress MP and Kshatriya leader Bharat Solanki, the BJP has pitted Leuva Patidar and Anand MLA Dilip Patel from the Anand Lok Sabha constituency. Similarly, BJP has fielded Devusinh Chauhan, a Kashatriya, from Kheda constituency against sitting Congress MP Dinsha Patel, who belongs to the Leuva Patidar community.