The revival of the Patidar agitation demanding OBC quota reservations, coupled with water scarcity, has forced the Gujarat Government to scale down its flagship event, the Krishi Mohatsav.
Brainchild of then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, this agriculture festival ahead of the Kharif crop season has been a campaigning vehicle for the BJP at the grassroots level since 2003.
With assembly elections due next year and the Patels, majority of whom who are farmers, angry with the BJP, the Anandiben Patel government has sensed that rolling out raths to publicise achievements and schemes might just backfire.
With top BJP leaders being chased away by the Patidars recently from many events, these ministers are also said to be reluctant to lead agriculture fair inaugurations.
So this year, the number of festival days has been reduced to 17 from 48.
“Absent from the ground this time will be an LED screen loaded with motorised raths that publicized achievements and schemes and large scale exhibitions at various places. Besides, the CAG, in its 2014 report, also questioned the cost and usefulness of the kit, containing seeds, fertilizers, saplings and other materials for the BPL farmers, usually distributed at the event. So they have been done away with,” said an official with the agriculture department.
“Only two talukas per district (total 33) will be covered this time. Areas dominated by Patels have been avoided,’’ said an official.
Besides, conducting a festival at a time when the farmers are reeling under water scarcity likely to further anger them. The majority of farmers belong to the Patel community,’’ the official added.
The Patels led by Patidar Anamat Anadolan Samiti(PASS) and Sardar Patel Group (SPG)last week revived their agitation by organizing a massive jail bharo protest, which turned violent and left 30 injured including SPG chief Lalji Patel.
Intensifying their demands, including the release of PASS leader Hardik Patel from jail and reservation benefits in government jobs and college admissions, the influential Patels that form 12 to 14% of the Gujarat population have announced boycotting government programs.