The greater Kheda district, out of which Anand district was carved out in 1997, is known as Charotar, the region of fertile land between the Vatrak and Mahi rivers. In present Kheda, the Kshatriyas account for almost 50 per cent of the votes and are believed to be Congress loyalists by and large.
The Leuva Patels are wealthy landowners. Thousands of Patels from the district have immigrated abroad and some have even acquired citizenship in those countries. Politically, Kheda’s Patels lack the numbers to match the Kshatriyas. Community leaders who have aligned with the BJP have seen their fortunes dip since the 1980s. Their only MLA in the district, Manibhai Patel, belongs to the Congress. The Kshatriyas have seven of nine MLAs, two of them with the BJP.
The MP is mines minister Dinsha Patel of the Congress, and one of the key players in Kheda these elections:
Dinsha Patel : The two-term Congress MP, 76, has striven to preserve heritage areas associated with Sardar Patel. He is popular across communities for his “clean” image and plainspeak. He is crucial to the Congress hopes of retaining Patel votes.
Ramsinh Parmar : The former minister, 69, is a four-time Congress MLA and a strong cooperative leader serving his third term as chairman of the Amul dairy. With his potential for mobilising his Kshatriya community, he has been renominated from Thasra.
Bimal Shah: The Ahmedabad-based businessman has built a base in Kheda after he won twice from Kapadvanj and also served as a minister in the Khesubhai Patel government. He lost in 2007 to Manibhai Patel of the Congress but the BJP retained faith in him and made him Kheda district BJP president in 2009-10.
Pankaj Desai: The three-term sitting MLA, 51, from Nadiad is a BJP heavyweight and the only non-Thakur-non-Patel MLA. As chief whip of the party, he can potentially mobilise partymen and voters alike.