The fate of the next government in Gujarat is more or less going to be decided by the Saurashtra-Kutch region. Of the four regions in Gujarat, Saurashtra-Kutch sends the largest number of MLAs to the state assembly. The fate of 54 candidates will be decided in this region.
In this region, caste plays a major factor and the one could see that the intensity of the Patidar agitation was higher here when compared to north, south and central Gujarat.
For the BJP to retain power this region always played a crucial role. In the previous three elections that were won under Narendra Modi, the BJP bagged around 40 seats from this region.
The Saurashtra-Kutch region is spread across 12 out of the 33 districts in the state. The Patidars and Kolis form approximately 40 percent of the population. The rest of the population comprise the OBCs, Kshatriyas and the fishermen community.
The Congress too realises the importance of this region and in the previous elections has attempted to put up a tough fight. It had fielded BJP rebels such as Keshubhai Patel and other Patidar leaders. While it has failed in the past, this time it hopes to make a turnaround and during the campaign has raised issued such as the pro-quota agitation of Patidars and the Dalit flogging at Una.
If one looks at the campaign of both the Congress and BJP the focus has been heavy in this region. The maximum number of rallies have been held in the Saurashtra-Kutch region. It is still unclear how much traction Hardik Patel and the Congress have gained in the region. Both have relentlessly raised the Patidar issue and have held a small meeting as opposed to the big rallies addressed by Modi.
While the quota agitation is an issue, many Patels say that they back the BJP. They say the completion of the Narmada dam project and the arrival of the Narmada water in the region through the SAUNI project will have an impact on agriculture.