A year after she took over as the state chief minister, Anandiben Patel seems to have finally come into her own, emerging out of the shadow of her predecessor and mentor Narendra Modi, who was the Gujarat chief minister for 13 years before her. The publicity for the third edition of Gatisheel Gujarat — where the government set targets to be put in accelerated mode, comprising a 17-minute video and glossy print material — has no mention of Modi or his work. Unlike her public addresses in the period soon after becoming CM in May last year, even her public speeches now are more about initiatives and development taken by her government in the past months.
“In fact, Gatisheel Gujarat, was a new concept by the government where she sets specific time period to achieve specific goals. No such thing was done by previous governments,” said a top level official from CMO. While GG-III is a one-year programme, so far two editions were spread over the span of six months where in her government has claimed to achieved more than 100 per cent results both the times in all sectors from social, education to women empowerment.
Patel, 74, who worked under Modi as education and revenue minister, made her assertion evident during Budget session on March 16. As BJP president Ranchhoddas Faldu, speaker Ganpat Vasava and other ministers stood at the assembly’s main entrance for more than half an hour to receive BJP national president Amit Shah, who was attending the session as an MLA for the first time since Patel took over as CM, Anandiben chose to stay in her office.
Patel, who was a regular at the assembly session, and an intent listener, chose to miss the half hour of the session which Shah attended. And the two, who don’t see eye to eye, finally met when Shah went to her office with flowers.
As the budget session came to an end, her publicity managers, who now seem to be in top gear, decided to give out her “popularity math” in a release which listed out Patel’s meeting with nearly 33,000 people during the 26 days of Budget session from February 23 to March 31. The release has special mention of Shah, along with Gandhinagar MP L K Advani, and some ambassadors.
For the first time, Patel has decided to send out signals that her tenure is likely to be different from Modi. Apart from the “Vibrant Gujarat” tagline changing to “Gatisheel Gujarat”, for the first time in the 17-year-old rule of the BJP in the state, she tabled gender budget with 67 schemes solely dedicated to women. The vidhan sabha has passed the bill reserving 50 per cent of seats in the local bodies for women and raised the job reservation quota from 30% to 33%.
“Suddenly, there is more talks on women empowerment,” pointed a minister. While Vibrant Gujarat 2015 was presided over by Modi, Patel seems happier to project herself as an agent of women empowerment than industrial growth.
Charting her own style of publicity, she promotes one farmer daily on her Facebook and Twitter pages, which gives their success stories in detail. “Her social media messages are more about laymen than hers. That’s her style,” said a young professional who looks after her social media profile.