Appointment of Anandiben as MP governor to keep her away from Gujarat politics?  

Patel’s appointment is being viewed as a strategic move that seeks to serve twin objectives – to appease the Patidar community and to keep her away from the internal faction war in the state BJP

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter
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Nachiketa Desai

The appointment of former Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel as the governor of Madhya Pradesh(MP) announced on Friday evening is a clever move by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah to placate the Patidar community both in her home state Gujarat and the neighbouring MP.

Anandiben Patel, the first woman chief minister of Gujarat, belongs to the anti-Amit Shah camp in the state BJP. She was compelled to step down from her office by BJP supremo Amit Shah in the wake of Patidar and Dalit agitation in the state in 2016. She had been sulking ever since and had declined to contest assembly election in 2017.

Patel’s appointment is being viewed as a strategic move that seeks to serve twin objectives – to appease the Patidar community, which had largely turned against BJP ahead of the 2017 assembly elections and to keep her away from the internal faction war in the state BJP. Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, annoyed at being denied key portfolios in the state cabinet, had forced the BJP leadership to assign him the finance department after Patidar leaders threatened to enforce a Mehsana bandh.

Mehsana district is home to Prime Minister Narendra Modi besides that of Anandiben Patel and Nitin Patel.

Anandiben Patel owes her political career to her proximity to Modi. A school teacher, she joined BJP as the president of BJP's women wing in 1986 and was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1994. She became education minister in 1998 in the Keshubhai Patel government after contesting Assembly polls for the first time from the Mandal constituency.

While several of ministers were dropped after Narendra Modi replaced Keshubhai Patel as the chief minister, Anandiben Patel was retained as the education minister after being re-elected in 2002 from Patan. In 2012, she shifted to the Ghatlodia assembly seat in Ahmedabad and won by the highest margin of over 1,75,000 votes.

After Narendra Modi moved to Delhi as Prime Minister in 2014, Anandiben Patel succeeded him as the chief minister. Ironically though she hails from the Patidar community, it was during her tenure as the chief minister that the pro-reservation agitation by the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) led by 22-year-old Hardik Patel triggered off and spread throughout the state. She was asked to step down and was replaced by Vijay Rupani, a Jain.

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