Sunday, October 26, 2014

Wary of being accused of treading differently, Gujarat CM meticulously follows Modi's ways and schedule

Gujarat CM at public reception on Oct 24
By Our Representative
Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel is learnt to have instructed her office not to entertain any requests for special favour from her family members, including her son, daughter and son-in-law. The instructions are learnt to have come following wild -- some would say unsubstantiated -- accusations by a young activist, Roshan Shah, seeking to find out whether the non-government organisation (NGO) run by her son-in-law Jayesh Patel and daughter Anar Patel, Manav Sadhna Trust, played any role in “selling off” some land assets once owned by the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad.
Patel has told senior officials in the chief minister's office (CMO) that, even if well-intended, the recommendations from her family members are being seen "suspiciously”, a senior bureaucrat said, adding, “The instructions suggest the chief minister is extremely wary to take a path that may be interpreted as different from the one taken by her predecessor, Narendra Modi, between 2001 and 2014. Throughout, Modi asked his ministers and bureaucrats to avoid any requests from his family members, especially brothers, who are in public life.”
The bureaucrat said he learnt about this following his interaction with a senior business executive who met one of the members of Patel's family for some work relating a clearing a land for purchase. “This family member told the executive pointblank that things had changed following Patel becoming Gujarat chief minister. It is no more possible to pursue the work with officials through family members, as previously was the case. The word has spread: Family members of Patel simply refuse to entertain any requests”, he added.
Notably, facts suggest that the Gujarat CM follows footsteps of Modi meticulously in almost everything, even if putting up a bold face by telling all around that a comparison between her and Modi is “ill-advised” and is actually harming her “reputation.” More recently, she followed Modi in scheduling her routine engagements on the Gujarati New Year day on October 24, which followed Diwali. “She just copied the timetable of her predecessor – Narendra Modi – and followed the schedule from the beginning to the end”, a source close to her said.
On the Gujarati New Year day, when he was chief minister, Modi would first visit a temple in the centre of the state capital, Gandhinagar, Panchdev Mahadev. Thereafter, he would go to the Raj Bhawan to greet the governor. Then, he would receive greetings from the visitors, who mainly consisted of ministers, babus and business tycoons, at the Community Hall, situated in the ministerial complex of the state capital. After formalities in Gandhinagar, he would move to Ahmedabad, and first visit Bhadrakali temple, and then move to the Circuit House annexe in Shahibaug, to receive more greetings.
Gujarat’s new chief minister “followed exactly the same schedule”, said sources close to her, witout “violating it at any point of time”. Insiders said, she was doing it “quite consciously”, in order to avoid the accusation of being seen as treading a different path than that of Modi. Thus, she preferred not to visit any other temple but Panchdev Mahadev in Sector 22 of Gandhinagar, following which she went to greet Gujarat governor OP Kohli. Then she went to the Community Hall in the state capital to be greeted by ministers, babus and tycoons, like Modi. Then, she was off to Bhadrakali temple in Ahmedabad and the Circuit House annexe in Shahibaug.
But, clearly, Anandiben Patel’s public receptions on the Gujarati New Year were found to lack the huge rush that Modi would witness. In fact, she was forced to wind up each of her public receptions in less than an hour’s time. “There were far fewer business tycoons at her reception than ones seen at Modi’s functions. Even some bureaucrats avoided meeting her, as they knew their presence under is not ‘noted’, as was done under Modi”, a source said. A Modi biographer told Counterview that all this has made people to consider her as “no more than a dummy chief minister.”
Even security arrangements for Anandiben Patel were considerably relaxed compared to that of Modi. At the Bhadrakali temple, for instance, unlike Modi, she directly met visitors, and even shook hands with some of them. Modi, clearly, never did that, as he was highly security conscious. All this has led ministers in the Modi Cabinet start believing that, unlike Modi, Anandiben Patel is no more invincible. Already, there are ministers who have begun to aspire to be Gujarat chief minister if she, at any particular moment of time, is forced to leave office. 

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