Skip to main content

Chinese President Xi Jinping's Gujarat visit: Why Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel was kept at bay?

Anandiben Patel at Sabarmati Riverfront
By Rajiv Shah
There is a veritable buzz in Gujarat: On September 17, when Chinese president Xi Jinping was in Gujarat, Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel, who received Xi at Ahmedabad International Airport, was “missing” in action at any of the important ceremonies held for his five hours of stay. While she was “around”, she wasn’t “visible”, or to be more precise, the state propaganda wing ensured that she was not projected at any place – the Hyatt Hotel where Xi was welcomed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Sabarmati Ashram where Xi “remembered” Mahatma Gandhi, and the Sabarmati riverfront, where Xi took a stroll with Modi ahead of Gujarati dinner.
This is believed to be particularly strange, as Xi – before going to Delhi for high-level talks -- was officially a Gujarat guest. A prominent Modi biographer commented, “It is not surprising. This only shows that Anandiben Patel is a dummy chief minister.” Others called it “unprecedented”, as no other chief minister has ever been ignored when a top international figure visits a particular state. Insiders said, the Gujarat chief minister was present at almost all the occasions, but she was always seen on the sidelines, as if “watching” from a distance.
While Modi’s presence could be felt all through, insiders wondered why the Prime Minister refused to give enough importance to the Gujarat chief minister and kept her at bay. Indeed, Anandiben Patel has been one of Modi’s closest ideological protégés. There is a lurking suspicion that this has to do with the BJP’s recent setback in three of the nine assembly bypolls. Also, there have been strong allegations about an NGO associated with her family members virtually “capturing” several of the Gandhi Ashram’s activities.
The official state media did what it should under such circumstances: There was just one out of 13 photographs mailed to the media showing the Gujarat CM, that too vaguely. She is seen walking not very far away from additional chief secretary, home, SK Nanda, along with several other government officials, following Modi and Xi at Sabarmati Riverfront. While Modi is there in all photographs, even Gujarat chief secretary Varesh Sinha is more prominent than her – there are two photographs of Sinha signing MoU and shaking hands with Xi.
While state Congress chief Arjun Modhwadia believes that the “neglect” of Gujarat CM is a reflection of how the officialdom doesn’t yet consider Anandiben Patel as its boss, state commissioner Bhagyesh Jha, who “managed” Modi-Xi propaganda show in Gujarat, refused to reply to a query about why this has happened. In one photograph, issued by his department, he is seen as being “thanked” by Modi for the good job he did!
Till the time of writing this (3 pm), Gujarat government website, http://www.gujaratindia.com/ has not uploaded any photograph of Anandiben Patel receiving the Chinese president at the Ahmedabad airport. The only photographs of September 17 of the Gujarat CM on the site – totaling 10 – are those of her meeting with Chinese delegation to prepare for MoUs between Gujarat and China. Xi was not present in these negotiations. None of the 13 photographs of the MoU signing ceremony -- where Modi and Xi were present – show Gujarat CM’s presence.
The site has three photographs of the state information commissioner taking a stroll at the Sabarmati Riverfront along with Xi’s wife Peng Liyuan. They are seen accompanied by a junior Gujarat minister and a few officials. As for the Gujarat chief minister, she is there in just one photograph where she is seen sitting next to Xi – at the dinner time at the Sabarmati riverfront. The website carries 26 photographs of Xi and his team at the riverfront.
During Xi’s Gujarat visit, the media was kept at a distance, and the release of photographs and videos was officially “controlled”.

Comments

TRENDING

132 Gujarat citizens, including IIM-A faculty, others declare solidarity with Kashmiris

Counterview Desk
A week after it was floated, 132 activists, academics, students, artists and other concerned citizens of Gujarat, backed by 118 living in different parts of India and the world, have signed a "solidarity letter" supporting the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), who, it claims, have been silenced and held captive in their own land. The signatories include faculty members and scholars of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Amit Shah 'wrong': Lack of transparency characterized bank frauds, NPAs, jobs data

Counterview Desk
India's senior RTI activists Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Venktesh Nayak, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, Pankti Jog and Pradip Pradhan, who are attached with the National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI), have said that Union home minister Amit Shah's claim that the Government of India is committed to transparency stands in sharp contrast to its actual actions.

Untold story of Jammu: Business 'down', students fear lynching, teachers can't speak

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released report, seeking to debunk the view that people in Jammu, the second biggest city of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after Srinagar, people had gone “out celebrating” abrogation of Article 370 which took away the state’s special status, has reported what it calls “abominably high levels of fear” across all sections in the town.

Success of 'political' Hinduism: Kashmiris being depicted as antagonists of rest of India

By Anand K Sahay*
There are times in history when facts call attention to themselves; they assert their independence in all its amplitude and are in no need of the crutch of interpretation. Such a moment is visible in Kashmir now. Merely by being on the table, the facts there taunt the regime’s proclamations.

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Kashmiris in a civil disobedience mode, are going against 'diktat' to open shops

Counterview Desk
A team of concerned citizens, including Ludhiana-based psychiatrist and writer Anirudh Kala, Mumbai-based activist and public health professional Brinelle Dsouza, Delhi-based journalist and writer Revati Laul, and social activist Shabnam Hashmi, travelled to Kashmir and Jammu to understand the impact of the abrogation of Article 370 and the subsequent security clampdown and communication blockade on the lives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).