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Modi, man for all jobs and minister of all he surveys

The Gujarat chief minister holds 14 portfolios. Could it be the reason that BJP leaders feel disgruntled? He leaves little else for his fellow ministers to do other than thump the table in his praise, writes Aakar Patel.

india Updated: Oct 12, 2012 21:27 IST
Gujarat elections 2012,Narendra Modi,Gujarat goverment

Here's a mystery for you. Why are former BJP leaders of Gujarat campaigning against their party? Some of them are men who have never been part of another political formation. Their entire life has been devoted to Hindutva, first as RSS recruits, then part of Jana Sangh, then BJP.

So what explains the exit from the party of former chief minister Keshubhai Patel, another former chief minister Suresh Mehta, six term MP and former Union minister Kashiram Rana (who died, ignored and heartbroken, a few weeks ago)? Why has even Gordhan Zadafiya, Modi's deputy as home minister during the dark days of 2002's violence, left the BJP?

Have they suddenly become secular? Have they come to renounce Hindutva? Not really.

If we look at the portfolios of Gujarat's Cabinet ministers, we observe something striking.

Except for finance, all important ministries are held by Narendra Modi himself.

The minister for home is and has always been Modi since he became chief minister, and many might not know that. Controlling the violence of 2002, and the subsequent collection of evidence against the rioters, was the job of Modi directly as home minister. He is answerable not only morally as chief minister, but also by way of pure accountability for his ministry's functioning. Now let's scan his Cabinet.

In a state whose main business is business, look at how Modi has allocated portfolios.

Reliance Industries has the world's biggest integrated refinery in Jamnagar (which Mukesh's father Dhirubhai began work on). Who is Gujarat's minister for petrochemicals? Narendra Modi.

First generation billionaire Gautam Adani's company is building ports. Who is Gujarat's minister for ports? Narendra Modi.

Jindal has mining interests in Gujarat. Who is minister for mines and minerals? Narendra Modi. Torrent operates giant power plants in the state. Who is minister for energy? Narendra Modi.

The Tatas have set up a car plant. Who is minister for industries? Narendra Modi.

Essar runs a massive compressed natural gas plant. Which minister's portfolio does that fall under? Narendra Modi.

Except for finance, all important ministries are held by Narendra Modi himself. Photos/AFP, UNI

The Narmada irrigation project, one of India's biggest, was put up by Keshubhai Patel. Who is minister for Narmada? Narendra Modi. The Kalpasar project is one of the world's most massive tidal power projects, conceiving a dam across the Gulf of Khambhat. Who is minister for Kalpasar? Narendra Modi.

Who is minister in charge of administration? Narendra Modi. Who is information & broadcasting minister? Narendra Modi.

Gujaratis jokingly refer to Modi as Draupadi, who must service the five Pandavs: Amabani, Adani, Essar, Torrent, Tata. He may be brilliant at running all these ministries (though it is true that at running the home ministry he has been demonstrably incompetent as I will show in a later piece) and it is certainly true that the corporate world loves him. But he leaves little else for his fellow ministers to do other than thump the table each time he speaks and say "Wah, wah Modi saheb! Kamal kar diya."

This is the reason, the only reason, that the men who built the BJP have left the party they once called home.

(Aakar Patel is a writer and a columnist. The views expressed are personal.)


First Published: Oct 12, 2012 15:36 IST