Monday, August 08, 2016

Dropped, Gujarat govt's most industry-friendly face refuses to tweet congrats after new CM Rupani takes over

Modi, Saurabh Patel, Mukesh Ambani
By Rajiv Shah
In a surprise move, Saurabh Patel, long considered the most industry-friendly face, has failed to find place in the new Cabinet. There is no official explanation why Saurabh, who was in charge of three most important portfolios in the Cabinet minister, finance, industry and energy and petrochemicals in the Cabinet, was humbled.
While speculation is rife among well-informed circles in Gujarat that Saurabh was long “tipped” to be part of the Government of India, and stage had been set for it, those who met him at the swearing-in ceremony of Rupani and his ministerial colleagues on Sunday say he was “put off” and “disturbed.”
Saurabh's official Twitter handle, @saurabhpatelguj, shows that while he would tweet almost daily without fail about the “developmental” activities under the last Anandiben Patel government as also the Modi government at the centre on issues related with the departments he headed, the last time he did this was on August 5.
On August 5, Saurabh tweeted complimenting Rupani on being announced as the new chief minister. Not only did he refuse to put in any go on Twitter on August 6, even the on the day Rupani formally took over after taking oath, August 7, there was no tweet from Saurabh congratulating the new chief minister.
While those around him admit that he was "axed" because he has failed to build political base, others say, he is out of favour. According to a top political observer, with knowledge of goings-on in the power circles, Saurabh was “out of favour” of Anandiben Patel. On the other hand, he failed to establish any rapport rapport with all-India BJP president Amit Shah, who is said to have called the shots in the formation of the new Cabinet under Rupani.
A person without any saffron background, Saurabh is son-in-law of Ramniklal Ambani, brother of top tycoon late Dhirubhai Ambani, and maintains good relations with Mukesh Ambani, Reliance chairman. With no RSS background, he has not allowed himself to be coloured with the saffron ideology. Yet, his closeness to Modi, under whom he served in Gujarat government after 2002, was never in doubt.
Last tweet by Saurabh Patel on Aug 5, which congratulated Rupani for 
being chosen as Gujarat CM. No such tweet after Rupani was sworn
in as CM on Aug 7
 
The only minister in the previous Anandiben Patel government who could communicate with ease in English, he is known to be a key organizer of the biennial Vibrant Gujarat world business summits ever since 2003. He had unmatched understanding of finance, too, and was a key minister to have created an atmosphere of support for goods and services tax (GST) for Modi, sitting in Gandhinagar.
While he was expected to play a key role in the 2017 Vibrant Gujarat summit, scheduled for January 11-12, a senior official said, “He was found not so indispensable. When Modi would be here for the summit, the entire Government of India machinery would go out to make the summit a great success.”
No doubt, Modi would need him. In the 2012 Gujarat state assembly elections, Modi shifted him from Botad, his constituency, where he was on slippery grounds, to Vadodara, a safe BJP seat. Said a senior leader, “Anandiben Patel and Amit Shah may not like him, but Saurabh remains in good books of Modi, one reason why there is a view that he might be taken to the Centre.”
Many say, Saurabh appears to have been “axed” because of his overt ambitions. He began to see himself as the next chief ministerial, virtually ran a parallel administration in the three departments he held, finance, industry and energy and petrochemicals, something his boss, Anandiben Patel, never liked.
Operating under him, controversy began surrounding the Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC), which has an accumulated debt of Rs 20,000 crore, with complete inability of the top PSU to deliver any gas from its KG Basin exploration; the announced 20 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas in KG, the largest ever by an Indian company, proved to be a hoax.
Soon after Anandiben Patel resigned on August 2, comments started appearing in influential sections of the media that Saurabh was the “fittest person” to become Gujarat's chief minister, and he never denied any of it. In fact, he was heard telling someone, he had the “capacity of doing which is work equal to a dozen bureaucrats.”
It is still not clear whether Saurabh, who played an important role in the empowered group of ministers of finance ministers in campaign for GST, would be "rescued" by Modi. “Rajya Sabha elections are a year away. So, he would have to wait to be shifted toDelhi”, commented a senior leader.

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