[dropcap]F[/dropcap]inally, Anandiben Patel resigned as the Chief Minister of Gujarat and forwarded the resignation letter to Governor of the state. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also said her to do so and started searching for her successor. The party might have praised her in high regards but the fact is that she could not manage the Gujarat state well. She failed to carry the legacy of Narendra Modi. She was a minister in Gujarat government for 18 years before being elevated as Chief Minister. The party appreciates her work for the development of the state. However, it asked her to tender resignation first on social networking site for testing water, because ‘a burnt child dreads the fire’. BJP has received flak for inept handling of Patel agitation and Dalit beating row in the state, and Anandiben belongs to same Patel community. The cover-up episode may end on good notes but nothing is fine in Gujarat at the moment.
Narendra Modi was gripped by the Patidar quota agitation. Anandiben survived inspite of the criticism of the Patel agitation as well as poor performance of her party in local body elections. Her decision to offer resignation comes at a time when Dalits are protesting and posing a challenge to the BJP. The party has vote banks even in states like Uttar Pradesh and Punjab where assembly elections are due within a year.
Everybody expected her to reassure the party that she might bring back the agitating hordes, to the saffron fold. But Patel’s response was curt. Many believe the 74-year-old chief minister couldn’t stop acting like a headmistress even 30 years after she quit the Mohiniba Girls School in Ahmedabad for a career in politics. And, it was this attitude that did not go down well with the people she had to deal with – be it party cadre, government officials or members of the Patidar community. Patidars and Dalits are already against saffron party.
‘Mota Ben’ had carefully nurtured the image of a good administrator since she took over from Narendra Modi. However, everything degraded when the Patidar agitation started within a year of her assuming office. Failure to curtail the stir cost the BJP dearly in the November 2015 local body elections. Later, her government’s delay in taking stern action in the Una incident resulted in a major controversy that jolted the BJP’s electoral chances in Gujarat as well as in Uttar Pradesh. Adding to her woes were accusations of her daughter’s business partners getting undue favours in a huge land deal. Actually, she failed to make the right political moves when it is needed. Today, the situation is that, if Gujarat goes for assembly elections then BJP may face defeat there.
Moreover, Modi always wanted a puppet CM in Gujarat, who works on his instructions. ‘Mota Ben’ was not given enough powers to take independent decisions and she always relied on senior party leaders at the Centre. Patel, who has been carrying forward the development initiatives started by Modi like making Gujarat an auto hub, has laid special emphasis on women and social development, an area where the state was not doing very well before. The biggest drawback of BJP is that, Modi and Shah became a centre power and rest are dummies. Perhaps, this is the same reason why every BJP ruled states have same problem. No growth, no development and people are unhappy as well as angry.
Anandiben worked with two chief ministers in Gujarat—Keshubhai Patel and Narendra Modi. Patel stood by Modi, when the latter was banished from the state in 1996 after confrontation with other senior BJP leaders. She got a Rajya Sabha nomination in 1994, but quit the Upper House seat in 1998 to fight her first election in Gujarat. Since then she has remained the longest serving woman legislator in the state. Patel was elected to the state assembly first time in 1998 from Mandal seat and in 2007 she was shifted to Patan, north Gujarat. In 2012 again, she was shifted to Ghatlodia in Ahmedabad city.
With her proximity to Modi, she was always seen as number two in the Gujarat cabinet under Modi’s chief ministership. So, it was hardly surprising when Modi named her as his successor in 2014. As a Revenue Minister, Patel initiated reforms such as creation of a single window clearance system, e-gram, online availability of record of rights, e-governance, establishment of ‘Janseva Kendras’ and improved functionality of non-agriculture land.
Another important department that she has handled was education, for which she is being criticized by the agitating Patel community who blame rampant privatization of the sector and making education unaffordable for them.
Patel, like Modi, kept most of the key portfolios to herself. At this age, with Headmistress types of attitude and arrogance, she actually failed to look after Gujarat. Somewhere the most hyped Gujarat Model got exposed in the recent time. Whosoever becomes the next CM Gujarat will have to deal with many issues. At this moment, surviving in Gujarat for BJP looks difficult.
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