- 150-odd NRIs visiting Gujarat to campaign for the BJP ahead of election
- Patels form 14 per cent of Gujarat's voters; has traditionally backed BJP
- Patidar leader Hardik Patel,24, is urging Patels to support Congress
"We are friends of the BJP and have come to Gujarat to tell people that how after Modi took over as the PM, the perception of the world changed towards us also," Mr Patel told NDTV in the party's office in Ahmedabad's Thalej area.
The powerful Patel or Patidar community, 14 per cent of Gujarat's voters, has backed the BJP for over two decades.The BJP has galvanised the support of hundreds of Non-Resident Indians to campaign for it in the state. Patels from the US and Australia are in Gujarat weeks before the election, rooting for the BJP which has been in power in Gujarat for 22 years.
The visiting Patels, though, do not seem to take young leader Hardik Patel seriously. The 24-year-old has been urging his Patidar caste to back the Congress in the assembly elections. Two years ago, he had launched a mass campaign. Hardik Patel's demand is for his community to be included as an Other Backward Class or OBC. He has vowed to oust the BJP from power.
"He has no ideology, no background. He is a young boy who is not even aware of history so how can we trust him," said Vipul Patel, an Indian-American doctor from Florida.
"His father was a Congress worker. Hardik was also associated with the Congress, then AAP. Now he has his own party PAAS(Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti)," said Suresh, another NRI supporter from Surat.
The BJP has also sought help from those NRIs who're unable to travel to Gujarat to campaign. These overseas Indians are holding conferences with voters through Google Hangouts.
Gujarat will vote on December 9 and 14. Results will be announced on December 18.