Anandiben Patel: Won't contest 2017 Gujarat Assembly elections
Former CM Anandiben Patel has written to BJP president Amit Shah that she won't be contesting the 2017 Gujarat Assembly elections. She cited the "75-year age criterion" as the reason for her refusal. Anandiben had succeeded Narendra Modi as CM after he was made PM in 2014. Consequently, she had resigned in 2016. How has Anandiben's journey in BJP progressed? Know more!
Anandiben entered politics accidentally
Before entering politics, Anandiben taught science and mathematics to higher secondary students and was also Mohinaba Vidyalaya's principal. Her entry into politics was accidental. In 1987, she was given the President's bravery award for rescuing two female students from drowning. Due to the recognition that followed, BJP senior leadership suggested her to join the party. She was made the Gujarat BJP's women wing's president.
Anandiben rises in Gujarat BJP
In 1994, Anandiben was elected as an RS MP from Gujarat. In 1998, Anandiben contested her first Assembly elections from Mandal. This led to her appointment in then-Gujarat CM Kesubhai Patel's cabinet in the ministries of education and women and child welfare. Subsequently, under Modi's chief-ministership, Anandiben's responsibilities grew as she was made in-charge of various departments ranging from revenue to urban housing.
From being second-in-command to in command
Anandiben and Amit Shah had high proximity with PM Modi. She was seen as second-in-command and when Modi was out of the state, she was "the one virtually in charge." Their proximity was such that her estranged husband Mafatlal Patel had written to then-PM AB Vajpayee complaining about Modi's influence on her. She thus succeeded Modi as CM in 2014.
As CM, Anandiben faced some tough situations
Anandiben was known as a "tough, no-nonsense task master" like her predecessor. She is credited for improving the state's schools and infrastructure. But, after becoming CM, she faced flak for failing to handle the attacks on Dalits by "gau-rakshaks" and the Patidar agitation led by Hardik Patel, demanding reservation. Under her, BJP faced heavy losses in the municipal elections in over a decade.
Anandiben steps down as CM
Apart from the issues enumerated above, News 18 reports that Anandiben faced allegations of nepotism as it was assumed that her children were running a parallel government and a fraught relationship with the bureaucracy. She also faced opposition from within the party and didn't get along with Shah. She resigned in 2016, making way for Vijay Rupani, considered Shah's man, to become CM.
Now, Anandiben decides not to contest elections
Citing the age factor, Anandiben has said that she would like to work as a "margdarshak" and not contest elections. Further, she urged Shah to nominate a local BJP worker from her constituency Ghatlodiya based on meritocracy to run for 2017 Gujarat Assembly polls.
What does this mean for BJP in Gujarat?
Anandiben's refusal to not contest elections might not affect BJP as she was not considered a mass leader. However, they will lose a straightforward and tough administrator. Winning their bastion, Gujarat, is critical for BJP. With AAP and Congress in the fray and BJP facing anti-incumbency and lack of a dominant political leader like Modi, the year-end Gujarat elections will be eagerly awaited.