Campaigning for the upcoming state elections in Gujarat in December 2017 has been going on for some months now, as the Congress party attempts to dislodge BJP from its traditional stronghold by taking advantage of an economically turbulent time. Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi has in fact been regularly visiting the state, attending rallies, speaking at events, and visiting temples in an attempt to win votes for his party. His campaign and rhetoric has focused on issues of economic strife, joblessness, and failure of the BJP to fulfill its promises, and he has even alleged that Gujarat is the most corrupt state in the country under the BJP.
Apart from such political rallying and sloganeering, which are nothing new in politics of this sort, there are other more clear reasons for optimism for the Congress. In recent weeks, this has been due to an emerging alliance between the Congress Party and the Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), an organization of the influential and powerful Patidar caste, conventionally also called the Patels. The Congress has been reaching out to the Patidars and aiming to win their support with promises of community reservations and quotas for jobs and college admissions in the state if it comes to power, leading ultimately to Hardik Patel’s declaration of PAAS’s support for Congress based on an agreement of quotas for his community.