In Anandiben’s raj, ministers enjoy more clout, independence | india | Hindustan Times
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In Anandiben’s raj, ministers enjoy more clout, independence

Chief minister Anandiben Patel’s office was buzzing with activity late on Thursday. After PM Narendra Modi’s ‘homecoming’, and Chinese president Xi Jinping’s day out in Ahmedabad, Patel was back in office — looking at pending work.

india Updated: Sep 20, 2014 23:18 IST

Chief minister Anandiben Patel’s office was buzzing with activity late on Thursday. After PM Narendra Modi’s ‘homecoming’, and Chinese president Xi Jinping’s day out in Ahmedabad, Patel was back in office — looking at pending work.

She had over six scheduled meetings, many visitors dropped-in and she also held reviews about a development initiative and Navratra preparations. If the initial buzz is anything to go by, in the post Modi Gujarat, the template that the PM set out in his capacity as CM is being emulated.

But with the continuity, there are changes and challenges for the new incumbent.

HT spoke to a range of bureaucrats, on the condition of anonymity, on what was similar and what was different in Modi and Patel’s Gujarat.

“Initiatives are already institutionalised. Key officials remain the same, and bureaucrats remain the same and know what to do,” said a senior official, calling it governance on ‘autopilot mode’.

Does this mean Modi is still calling the shots? “No, he is too busy and has given her the space,” the official added. But as two individuals, governance styles will be different.

An official very closely working with the CM points to three changes. “Modiji was a national figure, busy with many other responsibilities in the last two years with both state and Lok Sabha polls.” He also had 2002 and ‘fake encounter’ cases, a ‘hostile centre’, and managing other national leaders as issues to deal with. This meant he depended overwhelmingly on trusted bureaucrats such as K Kailasanathan, GC Murmu and AK Sharma.

“Anandiben can work full time. She disposes files quickly, on merit. She doesn’t ask as many questions but continues to take decisions and is also tough.”

Anandiben is not original with initiatives, her focus is primarily implementation. This means that MLAs and ministers are now more autonomous.

However, bypoll reverses spell bad news. For now, she has the benefit of doubt and support. But if she is seen as slipping, rivals may step up.