PTI | May 21, 2014
Anandiben Patel succeeded Narendra Modi in 2014 as the Gujarat chief minister and is seen as a disciplinarian and hard taskmaster who puts a premium on probity, qualities often associated with her predecessor.
The first woman chief minister of Gujarat was seen as a natural heir to the Prime Minister-designate as she headed the group of ministers tasked with the responsibility to run the state's day-to-day affairs during his hectic Lok Sabha campaign.
In Gujarat, Patel and Amit Shah are often described as Modi's "left and right arms".
Patel holds the key portfolios of urban development, revenue and disaster management and was earlier in charge of education ministry, driving successfully some of the key Modi projects, including boosting of female literacy.
The choice of Patel also takes into account the BJP's social arithmetic as the Patel community is the largest and most influential caste in the state and the backbone of its support base for over more than two decades.
Known for her no-nonsense image, she is the longest serving BJP minister who joined the party in late 80s and rose steadily through the ranks.
Married to Mafatbhai Patel, a professor, she has been living away from her family since mid-1990s and they have a son and a daughter.
Mafatbhai had announced his plan to fight Lok Sabha elections on the Aam Aadmi Party ticket but was reportedly talked out of it by their children. He has postponed a trip to abroad, anticipating her appointment as the new CM so that he could attend her oath-taking ceremony.
Patel shot into fame when as a school teacher she jumped into Sardar Sarovar reservoir in 1987 to save two girls from drowning.
Besides winning a gallantry award from the governor, her heroics also caught the attention of BJP leaders, some of whom were familiar with her husband, who wanted the educated and brave woman to join their party as such a woman leader was almost a rarity at that time.
As a teacher too, she had received government awards. She and Modi worked together in BJP since she joined the party as he as the R.S.S pracharak would regularly interact with the state party leaders and their career graphs also rose simultaneously.
She was the only woman leader who joined the then BJP President Murli Manohar Joshi in unfurling the tricolour at Lal Chowk in Srinagar in 1992 and was elected as a Rajya Sabha MP two years later.
Always seen as a talented leader in the party, she was asked to contest assembly elections in 1998 and became a minister of state in the then Keshubhai Patel government.
She made no bones about her loyalty to Modi as she maintained her association with him even when he was banished from the state due to internal strife in party.
Modi gave her key portfolios as her stature rose and she was soon seen as his most trusted cabinet colleague.
As the education minister, she is credited with putting in an institutional mechanism to deal with transfers and postings of teachers in place of an ad-hoc regime, which was seen as breeding corruption.
Patel leads a frugal life and travels extensively across the state, monitoring government projects, interacting with officials and people.
One of her limitations, many party leaders say, is her not-so-friendly approach with party leaders and workers but she has often brushed such criticism aside, saying she should be judged not by the smile on her face but her work.
As the Chief Minister of Gujarat
The Times of India, August 2, 2016
Teacher-turned-neta, Ben hangs her boots
“She is strict but good at heart... She may not change her style of functioning at this age,“ Prime Minister Narendra Modi had famously said at the swearing-in ceremony of Anandiben Patel as the first woman chief minister of Gujarat in May 2014.
Central to her heart is a legendary tale of heroism.As a teacher in Mohiniba Kanya Vidyalaya, Anandiben had jumped into a reservoir to save two girl students, one a Muslim, who reached her chief minister's office to hug her and express gratitude for saving her life.
Anandiben, the longest serving woman MLA and minister in Gujarat, had an uninterrupted stint in office for 18 years as a minister, heading ten departments including the powerful ones like education, revenue and urban development ministry .
Her appointment as CM was not a surprise as Anan diben had been always been a Modi loyalist despite having worked closely with former CM Keshubhai Patel, ousted by BJP in 2001.
A fitness aficionado, Anandiben exercises, walks and performs yoga daily and takes pride in climbing up stairs at her age. Her secret is frugal eating and “never taking sweets“. Anandiben is not known to possess a sweet tongue either. Perceived as a stern taskmaster by party insiders and bureaucrats, she did not get along well with Amit Shah, the right hand man of Modi, even as she was considered the left.
In fact, the power corridors in Gandhinagar have remained rife for years over how the two key ministers in the Modi cabinet never agreed on anything. In recent months, every time Shah visited Gujarat, rumours of her ouster would begin.
Not considered a mass leader, Anandiben had to change her assembly seat thrice -from Mandal to Patan to Ghatlodiya -as she continued to win, without winning hearts.
In days as CM, Anandiben's disciplinarian style of functioning won her a few admirers inside the party , administration and even society at large that constantly compared her with her charismatic predecessor.
Her crisp dismissal of the patidar stir did little to control the agitation. Her delayed reaction to Dalit flogging in Una too was seen as a sign of flawed governance which caused embarrassment to the BJP fighting to attract Dalit votes in UP and Punjab.
The outgoing CM's visit to Una came too late as BSP chief Mayawati had heaped shame on the BJP in the Rajya Sabha over the atrocities. In fact she planned her visit only after Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal announced their plans to meet Dalits in Una.
But it was her family that proved to be Anandiben's proverbial Achilles' heel as corruption charges involving her sonand daughter made a huge dent in her image. Her obsession with building toilets could do little to to clean up the muck in her own party .
Just when the controversy over allegations of BJP government giving away 442 acres land near Gir at hugely discounted price was buried, her alleged involvement in another major land scam was reflected in an unauthenticated audio clip.
The increasingly isolated CM who had two months ago countered rhetoric of her replacement with a stern, “Shanti rakho, I am not going anywhere,“ finally hung her chappals.
The Times of India, Aug 02 2016
CM who stressed on social development
Anandiben Patel is among those few CMs of Gujarat who stepped away from an industry-centric budget to focus on social development. During her tenure, nearly 48% of the budget was allocated to social sectors. She was the first CM to present three gender-sensitive budgets.
Her hallmark has been the implementation of 33% quota for women, starting with the new police recruitment. In civic bodies, she enforced 50% reservation for women.
She was also feted for constructing the largest number of toilets in a given period -freeing 6,100 villages and all towns and cities in the state from open defecation.
The single Vibrant Gujarat Summit she convened saw in vestment proposals worth Rs 64,733 crore, believed to be one of the highest in the country made in such summits.
Following BJP's poor show in district panchayat polls in 2015, she announced allotment of 6,000 acres of land to cooperative societies and agricultural produce committees -10 to 30 acres to each of them at 10% to 35% of `Jantri' rates for infrastructure purposes.
With her long experience in urban development, revenue, and women and child development, improving social development indices came naturally to Patel. She introduced women entrepreneurs to animal husbandry , began pension schemes for women selfhelp groups, strengthened micro-credit and launched Dudh Sanjivani Yojana, to provide milk to tribal children.
In pursuit of women empowerment
The Times of India, August 3, 2016
Anti-women crime dipped in Anandiben era
One of the first decisions taken by Anandiben Patel after becoming Gujarat chief minister in 2014 was reserving 33% posts for women in state police. Women comprise only 4% of the state police force. Her decision was emulated by the centre, all Union territories and, later, the central paramilitary forces. Statistics show that crime against women consistently declined during 2014 and 2015 when Anandiben was at the helm compared to 2013 when Narendra Modi was the chief minister.
Compared to 2014, the number of rapes came down by half in 2015. Sources said the trend has continued in the initial months of 2016 as well. Patel's `sakhimandal' (women's groups) initiative also came into the limelight after a couple of raids on liquor dens in Ahmedabad in 2015.
The Times of India, August 2, 2016
Elevation as CM upset many within state unit
The appointment of Anandiben Patel as chief minister in May 2014 was a decision apparently thrust upon by then PM-in-waiting Narendra Modi, whose wish no one in BJP could dare to refute.
But the undercurrent of discontent has been simmering since the two years in the party's functioning as well as the government. Some BJP seniors finally mustered the courage to question Modi's decision in the meeting of senior members held in `Kamalam', the party's headquarters. But Modi disregarded their view, sources said.
During Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah's first visit to Ahmedabad after the former became PM, party members were heard wanting Shah as CM. Patel was hardly at talking terms with then state BJP chief R C Faldu. She has a strained relationship with senior ministers among whom some, like Saurabh Patel, were unhappy with the distribution of portfolios.
The growing distance between the CM and the BJP cadre was obvious during the Patidar quota agitation when, barring a couple of ministers, none came forward to placate the Patels. It was only due to the last moment intervention by Saurabh Patel that BJP managed to stop the Patidars from protesting against Modi during his US visit in September 2015.
Anandiben waged a lone battle during the local body polls in November 2015 when she had to measure the length and breadth of the state.
When rumours began doing the rounds in June that Anandiben would be stepping down, a senior minister casually responded to a scribe's query, saying, “Ministers will come and go.“ His response was reflective of how least bothered they were to defend their CM.
2016: Resignation as the Chief Minister
The Times of India, Aug 02 2016
Dalit fire, Patel ire & land mire force Gujarat's Big Ben to retire
Under Mounting BJP Pressure, Anandiben Quits As CM Ahead Of 2017 Polls
Gujarat's first woman chief minister, Anandiben Patel, dramatically quit on Monday , posting her resignation letter on her official website, linked to Facebook and Twitter. Her exit, which had been anticipated for some time, could help the BJP leadership's efforts to repair the political damage in the party's stronghold of Gujarat ahead of the assembly polls, scheduled for end-2017. Anandiben announced her resignation at around 5pm before proceeding to meet governor O P Kohli at the Raj Bha van in Gandhinagar.
She was under pressure for almost a year following a strident quota agitation by the Patels -BJP's main votebank in Gujarat. Subsequent allegations of land scams involving her family members and the latest protests over flogging of Dalits by `gau rakshaks' in Una on July 11 added to her woes, amid grow ing realisation within BJP that she may not be able to ensure victory for the party in the assembly elections. Veteran minister Nitin Patel and state party chief Vijay Rupani are said to be frontrunners to succeed Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel, although BJP national president Amit Shah's name is also doing the rounds in the state capital. Patel has the advantage of belonging to the influential community , which has been the core of the saffron base and needs to be placated. However, Rupani, a Jain, is considered to be more energetic and could help the party do a tightrope walk in a scenario of competing demands of different castes. It's unclear as to whether Shah, who's spearheading BJP's campaign to wrest UP in next year's elections, would want to give up his very powerful all-India position to return to his home state.
A meeting of the parliamentary board is to be called shortly to accept the resignation, a mere formality , and to appoint Patel's successor.
Anandiben said she decided to pass on the baton in deference to the age ceiling of 75 years laid down by PM Modi and because she wanted her successor to get time to prepare for the Vibrant Gujarat summit in January .
However, the chief trigger could be the leadership's concern about mounting problems in Gujarat, a state it has controlled since the 1990s, which served as the launch pad for Modi's successful bid to become PM. Besides the threat of the loss of a section of Patels, the leadership is also having to contend with the estrangement of Dalits and the efforts of rivals to stitch together a coalition comprising Scheduled Castes and Muslims.
Anandiben's resignation was the subject of speculation since Hardik Patel started his campaign for a Patel quota.Many in the party felt she did not respond well to the challenge, which threatened to dent BJP's hold over Patels. Allegations of corruption were another worry . But it was her failure to respond promptly to the public flogging of Dalits for skinning a dead cow that proved to be the tipping point for the leadership, sources said. The footage of cow vigilantes mercilessly assaulting fo ur Dalits could have repercussions for BJP's effort to woo Dalits, a significant objective for the UP polls, and the larger effort to consolidate the Hindu vote.
The leadership appeared to have decided to change her in April-May but could not execute the plan because of its preoccupation with assembly elections and, more important, its inability to find a suitable successor. Anandiben read the writing on the wall and offered to quit in June when she met Modi and Amit Shah during the BJP national executive in Allahabad.
Though she was allowed to continue, there were indications of the central leadership's increased involvement in decisions, including the appointment of senior bureaucrats like the chief secretary and IPS officers. According to sources, this convinced the CM that her time was up.
This time, with rivals using the Una atrocity to mobilise Dalits against BJP , the leadership made no effort to get her to retrace her steps.Shah told reporters that Anandiben sent her resignation in the morning itself; that is, hours before she went public on Facebook and Twitter.
However, the leadership appeared to be bolstering Anandiben's case that the decision to go was entirely her own. “She herself has said she wanted someone to take over before Vibrant Gujarat and the state polls later next year,“ Shah said, confirming that the CM had offered to quit earlier but was persuaded to stay on.
Party sources also said Anandiben would be given a respectful farewell in which Modi and Shah would be present. She is likely to be accommodated as a governor. Though the resignation came an hour after Congress member Shankersinh Vaghela accused Anandiben of a Rs 11,000 crore scam, BJP dismissed the charge as baseless and politically motivated.
This was in order, given the standing that the outgoing CM has in the BJP.
Anandiben was Modi's obvious choice as CM when he became PM in May 2014. She was hand-picked by him in the mid-80s and roped in to head the BJP women's wing in the state. She remained his closest loyalist even when Modi was banished from Gujarat in the mid-90s at the behest of the then CM Keshubhai Patel.
In the run-up to her resignation, Anandiben announced a series of populist steps like withdrawing scores of cases against Patidar members, exempting cars from toll tax on state highways and speedy implementation of the 7th Pay Commission recommendations for state employees. All this, while her senior colleagues kept complaining that she was taking decisions and making announcements without consulting the cabinet.
Reasons for resignation
The Times of India, August 2, 2016
Patel's inability to deal with a political crisis -a result of her bitterly antagonising her own community of Patidars that is demanding reservation -had set off talk that she could no longer hold the reins of a state.
The Patidar stir, which required deft handling, ultimately cost BJP dearly in the civic polls last year, especially in the rural areas where the party suffered some of the most humiliating defeats.
Even as Patidars remained adamant on a separate quota in jobs and education, the CM chose to show them the rule book by publishing advertisements reasoning why they aren't legally entitled to reservation.Patidars, one of BJP's mosttrusted voters, did not take her obstinate denials kindly .
Patidar quota stir leader Hardik Patel's jibes against her were responded to in the most unimaginative manner. Swords were out on both sides after widespread violence after the Patidar rally in August last year and her government invoked the harsh sedition law against Hardik and others, further angering the community. This invited harsh criticism from the opposition too.
Anandiben's decisions to grant scholarships by launching Yuva Swavlamban Yojna and a 10% quota for upper castes a year later were too little and too late.
It was in the aftermath of the Patidar stir that BJP reluctantly went into local body polls that were virtually thrust upon them by the court. The result was BJP's worst ever show in 25 years.
The brutalisation of Dalits in Una in July 2016 sparked another unrest, raising doubts about Anandiben's capability to lead BJP into the state polls in 2017.
Modi VS Anandiben
The Times of India, August 2, 2016
Undue privileges to son, daughter sullied her image
In 2015, an NRI's complaint of corruption against chief minister Anandiben Patel's son was given a quiet burial. NRI Roshan Shah had lodged a complaint with the registrar of companies against MS Anar Retails Pvt Ltd owned by Anandiben's son Swetank Patel, popularly known as Sanjay Patel. Shah raised doubts over how Sanjay marketed from his mother's Ahmedabad house, which was closed for years together. However, it was more than a year later that the first serious allegation was levelled against her in a land scam.
The government faced accusations of favouring business partner of Patel's daughter Anar by allotting him a chunk of land without following due procedure.The firm, Wildwoods, received 422 acres of land in 2010 at the rate of Rs 15 per square metre, a huge discount of 91.6% on government's stamp duty rate of Rs 180 per square metre. Though the deal was cleared by the cabinet under then chief minister Narendra Modi, Patel was the revenue minister. However, the hullabaloo over this controversy temporarily rested after a public interest litigation filed by RTI activists in Gujarat high court demanded a probe and action against the erring officials.
Just when Anandiben was besieged by Dalit uprising, an audio clip of a conversation between Dhari MLA Nalin Kotadiya and senior BJP member Surendra Patel, nee Kaka, surfaced where the latter is heard alleging that the CM had facilitated a land deal where a lot of money changed hands.