April 4, 2015 2:20:47 am
With elections due in 300 local bodies, Chief Minister Anandiben Patel wants to steer clear of any negative publicity. In a closed-door meeting recently, she advised district administrations to closely follow media by specially deputing a staff member to focus on “damaging” activities by NGOs, leading to any publicity that could project the government in a bad light.
Patel has also decided not to continue her signature “surprise visits”, at public places like schools, hospitals, toll booths or collector offices, which so far have revealed irregularities on most occasions. To avoid any unpleasant things coming to the fore, she has decided to inform, in advance, about her tour plans. She has made surprise visits to the Bhilad checkpost, a school in Gandhinagar and so on.
Patel, who took over from Narendra Modi in May 2014, in almost year-long tenure so far has been projected as the first woman chief minister and strict administrator by her office. With 8 out of 6 municipal corporations and nearly 300 gram panchayats, nagarplalikas and zilla panchayats set to go to polls from October, this will be the biggest challenge for the BJP under her leadership, post Modi’ departure to Delhi after being elected as Prime Minister in 2014. During 13-year-long rule, while Modi had proved his absolute grip on the government as well as state party unit, his successor is now preparing for the test.
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Addressing a meeting to announce Gatisheel Gujarat-III with collectors and district development officers held at Chief Minister Office in Gandhinagar on March 31, she said, “As the elections will come closer, more and more negative aspects of the government will be highlighted. We plan to launch Swachchta Abhiyan from May 1 to 15, but what they show is non-functioning RO plants, unclean public health centres… toilets,” she said, sharing the dais with Chief Secretary D J Pandian.
She said, “You (collectors and DDOs) have TV sets in office. Depute a person… And the moment news of any place is being shown…you have telephone… call them. I personally have called up Amreli, Jamnagar and Vadodara collectors when cleanliness conditions of their offices were shown…it was such that I do not want to go into details.”
For NGOs, she said, “With Gatisheel Gujarat, NGOs too have gone Gatisheel (faster)… they are doing good work as well as work that can damage us…we need to concentrate on such activities.”
Announcing a major change in her functioning style she said, “So far…I used to talk about surprise visits…And now I am saying no to surprises…the visits show the school toilet of public health centre as being unclean…but nobody shows what happened after visit…that it was cleaned up’’.
She added. “So, now onwards, it will be informed in advance that there will be visit to school or anganwadi or water tank…everybody in the village should be informed about it.” She, however, also advised, “Take matter of cleanliness seriously…whereever and whenever there is need…do act…do not wait for newspaper or TV report.”
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