Temple trust to decide victory in Mehsana LS seat

This is one constituency that is synonymous with the influential Patels of the state. Situated in North Gujarat, there are burning issues like shortage of water during the summers but the candidates from all  three parties – BJP, Congress and AAP – do not touch upon such issues while on their campaign trail with their voters.

Because of the dominant Patel population, the candidates from all the three parties are Patels and they all owe their allegiance to the Umiya Mata Mandir Sansthan, an influential institution, a temple trust which binds voters together in this constituency in particular. A directive from this Sansthan for the voters could decide the fate of the candidates.

The three candidates – Jayshree Patel of the BJP, Jivabhai Patel of  Congress and Vandana Patel of AAP – have no qualms about admitting allegiance to the temple trust and say that it is an important factor for the sentiments of the voters in this constituency.

“They are an important organisation in this constituency and they do influence a large section of the voters cutting across economic sections of the society,’’ said BJP’s outgoing MP Jayshree Patel.

So while she campaigns in the name of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, she is also aware that she needs  the tactical backing of the Sansthan. Vandana Patel, representing the AAP and a breakaway from the BJP, tries to shed of the image of being a loyalist. But her supporters admit that had it not been for the backing of some of the members of the Sansthan, it would not have been possible for her to campaign in the Patel heartland of Mehsana.

Congress candidate Jivabhai Patel was elected MP in 2004.  Though more confident of his performance this time, Jivabhai says that the BJP candidate might be seeking votes in the name of Modi but she needs to have the support of the community.

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