MLA Anant Patel, a school teacher who is loved by south Gujarat tribals
A project announced earlier this year in the Union Budget had stirred disagreement among tribals of the south Gujarat. The project was about linking rivers Par, Tapi and Narmada to provide water to the parched regions of Saurashtra and Kutch. This triggered series of protests that forced BJP at the centre to call off the project. The leading face of these protests was 45 year old Anant Patel, a first time MLA who served as a school teacher. The first time Congress MLA from Vansda constituency of Navsari district in south Gujarat, Patel is among the younger faces in the Gujarat Assembly.
Despite of coming from a non political background, Patel has garnered popularity among the south Gujarat tribals. He is also made a place of himself as one of the most prominent opposition voice in the tribal belt.
Who is Anant Patel?
Hailing from Unai village under Vansda tehsil of Navsari in Gujarat, by profession Anant Patel is a school teacher. The 45 year old Congress MLA did his masters in arts and bachelor in education from Veer Narmad South Gujarat University.
Driven by his passion for the tribal cause, Anant entered politics in 2009 with him being elected as sarpanch of his Unai village. He then made his way up on the political ladder as Congress taluka president in 2013, and then as president of Vansda Taluka Panchayat in 2015. In 2017, he was nominated by Congress from the Vansda constituency, and he won the seat.
Due to his involvement in activism, Patel often has rub ins with the ruling party. As mentioned by The Indian Express, on October 8, Patel was attacked by a group of 50 people when he was going to Khergam village to raise awareness about a march called Sangharsh Yatra he planning, related to issues of tribal communities. Anant alleged he was attacked by the group at behest of a local BJP leader. After sustaining a fracture in one of his ribs, for which he was hospitalized, Anant postponed the yatra and is now planning to carry it out after Diwali festivities.
A political observer has noted, “Anant has no family background in politics. But he has made rapid strides in the south Gujarat region. BJP considers him a major obstacle in conquering the tribal belt, where Congress is strong.”