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Second line of command in Modi’s Gujarat

Rather than power being handed over to a single leader,his duties will be shared among three ministers.

Gandhinagar |
September 17, 2013 12:02:58 am

Narendra Modi,now the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate,is unlikely to have a deputy chief minister shouldering his responsibilities in Gujarat when he expands his cabinet in November,party sources say. Rather than power being handed over to a single leader,his duties will be shared among three ministers who have his faith — Anandi Patel (revenue),Nitin Patel (finance) and Saurabh Patel (energy and petrochemicals).

“The 11 portfolios handled by Modi will get unofficially divided among the top three,” said a BJP source. “Anandi Patel may get the responsibility for the highest number of departments,but no one is likely to get absolute power.”

Modi’s charges include home,industries,Narmada,general administration,and science and technology. Gujarat has only 17 ministers,including nine ministers of state,and many hold multiple charges.

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Anandi Patel

She handles urban development and housing,revenue,and roads and buildings. With Modi focusing on his national role,Anandi is expected to have a larger role ingeneral administration and home. Anandi,72,a gold medallist in MSc and MA,has the trust of Modi with whom she has worked closely since their RSS days. Chairperson of the BJP women’s wing and Rajya Sabha MP in 1994-1998,she became a minister for the first time in 1998. She belongs to the politically influential Leuva Patel community,hails from Mehsana district,only 30 km from Modi’s Vadnagar,and is married to Maftalal,a Kadva Patel. That makes her acceptable in both sub-castes,though her influence is more noticeable among the Kadvas. The party has put her in charge of Ahmedabad and Surat. Coming from a district with a skewed sex ratio,she is a campaigner for women empowerment.

Nitin Patel

The finance minister is one of the few accessible ministers in the Modi government,and carries the image of being a corruption-free politician. He often deals with matters relating to the Narmada,one of the departments that is currently under Modi’s direct charge. He is perhaps the only leader who is known to speak his mind,even to Modi. Once close to Modi’s predecessor Keshubhai Patel,Nitin went on to win the trust of Modi too. By giving him the finance portfolio,Modi has in a way kept him above Anandi Patel,who is generally seen as number two in the government. A leader from northern Gujarat,Nitin Patel is now one of the few ministers in the current government who has worked closely both with Keshubhai and Modi — with the latter since the 1980s. He is also an industrialist; his business involve oil and ginning mills.

Saurabh Patel

One of the younger ministers,Saurabh Patel,54,is also the flamboyant face of the party. As chairman of committee planning the Vibrant Gujarat summit of 2015,he has been involved in the affairs of the industries department,which Modi handles. An MBA and son-in-law of Dhirubhai Ambani’s elder brother,he grew close to Modi in 2003 when,as energy minister,he helped turn the loss-making Gujarat Electricity Board into the successful Gujarat Urja Vikas Limited,with four subsidaries. He introduced metered electricity for farmers,who were antagonised when many were jailed for power theft. The electricity company started making profits but Patel barely managed to win back his seat,Botad,in Bhavnagar district. After delimitation left Botad with fewer voters of his Kadva Patel community than of Koli ones,he contested from Asarva in Vadodara district.

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