The Patels, a dominant caste of Gujarat, rallied around the Congress in the 1920s and remained behind the ruling party until the 1980s, when they shifted to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) because of the pro-Other Backward Classes (OBCs) reservation policy of the Congress Chief Minister Madhavsinh Solanki. As evident from the 2015 local elections, rural Patels are getting back to Congress. They resent the fact that the BJP, the ruling party for almost two decades, refuses to include Patels on the list of the OBCs. This demand, articulated by Hardik Patel, and other youth leaders, reflects the growing socio-economic inequalities within this caste group, not only because of the gap between peasants and urban dwellers but also because of the scarcity of good jobs in the private sectors, one of the outcomes of the ‘Gujarat model’....

This article was originally published in Studies in Indian Politics.

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