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HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Ahmedabad, December 22, 2012
The verdict in the Gujarat elections has showed once again that the state of entrepreneurs prefers a bipolar polity. There is little place for a third party.

Keshubhai Patel's decision to walk out of the BJP and float his own party had created much uncertainty. But his Gujarat Parivartan Party failed to make any impact.

The party won only 2 seats, even though it had fielded more than 170 candidates for the 182-seat assembly.

"Gujaratis are business-minded people. They don't want a confusing political scene, which is what happens when you allow multiple parties," said Sarman Zala, a professor at the Gujarat University. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/12/22-12-12-pg-10c.jpg

"That is why Gujarat has always gone for a national party."

In the past too, attempts to break the bipolarity of the state's politics had failed.

In 1990, when the Janata Dal split, its leader Chimanbhai Patel floated a regional party that lasted just six months. Chimanbhai was forced to merge it with the Congress and stay as the state's chief minister.

Unlike Chimanbhai, who didn't have much of an organisational network, 84-year-old Keshubhai - a two-time chief minister of Gujarat -- is believed to have had the backing of a section of the RSS and the powerful Leuva Patel community which comprises 14% of the state's electorate.

"Keshubhai was a towering personality. But without an organisation, without the BJP, he proved to be a failure," said BJP spokesperson Prakash Javedkar.

The couple of seats the GPP had won included that of Keshubhai and Nalin Kotadia from Dari in the western Saurashtra region.

It was expected to win at least 4-6 seats and spoil the chances of the BJP in many places, especially in the Saurashtra, which sends 54 MLAs to assembly and is a stronghold of Leuva Patels - the community to which Keshubhai belongs.

Some analysts say the hype over Leuva Patels rallying behind Keshubhai might have actually harmed him.

"People saw it as a party of Leuva Patels," said Zala.

"On the other hand, there is no evidence to suggest the Leuva Patels voted only for the GPP."