Uphill task for disciplinarian Anandiben

Uphill task for disciplinarian Anandiben

Anandiben Patel has come a long way from being the only girl student in an all boys school in her village in Kharod in north Gujarat to becoming the first woman Chief Minister of Gujarat and the 15th CM of the state.

Succeeding BJP’s PM-elect  Narendra Modi, Anandiben has the uphill task like Modi to continue to meet with the expectations of the people. 

Old timers in the BJP who have known Anandiben from her initial days even as a student, say that she has always had the streaks of being the leader. Party leaders say when she was a party worker she had worked relentlessly in drought affected areas of Kutch.  Stories about her also go on to say that when she worked as a school teacher she had jumped into the Narmada river to save two students.

The 72-year-old leader has been a senior Cabinet minister and close aide of Modi. She is one of the longest serving BJP ministers in the state with having been in the Cabinet from the BJP’s first tenure in 1998 led by Keshubhai Patel.

Anandiben, prior to joining politics, did her Masters in Science and got a gold medal while pursuing Masters in Education. But fate had other things in store for her as she enter politics. She came in contact with Sangh and BJP leaders through her husband Mafatbhai Patel and in 1987 she formally joined the BJP.

It was because of her administrative capabilities that she went on to become the president of the BJP’s women wing and was able to hold on to the post for seven long years. But it was her 1992 Ekta yatra with party leaders to Srinagar that catapulted her to prominence. Her effort was noticed and she was became a Rajya Sabha member.

Gujarat was always on her mind and thus she was first elected as an MLA from Mandal constituency in Ahmedabad district in 1998 and went onto become the minister of education and child and women welfare department in the Keshubhai Patel government. Since then she has been re-elected time and again and moving closer to the power centre holding important portfolios like revenue and urban development.  

Anandiben, like her predecessor, will inherit the qualities of being a strong administrator and hard task master.  This was one quality for which she was chosen to the chairperson of the group of ministers who ran the show while Modi was campaigning across the country.  

But political observers point out that her biggest limitation is her connect to the party grassroot. Party leaders point out that given her inaccessibility not many in the party are connected to her. 

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