Interview | Gujarat 2017

There is no anti-incumbency in Gujarat as we have delivered, says Deputy CM Nitinbhai Patel

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Deputy CM Nitin Patel in Gandhinagar. File photo

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Deputy CM Nitin Patel in Gandhinagar. File photo   | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji

If BJP’s 22-year rule in Gujarat faces a challenge in the 2017 Assembly elections, it is mainly because of the Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) demanding reservation in jobs and educational institutions. As the BJP tries to win back its loyal supporters, Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitinbhai Patel speaks in the midst of hectic campaigning in Mehsana.

Gujarat Deputy CM Nitin Patel addressing election meeting at Meau on December 06, 2017.

Gujarat Deputy CM Nitin Patel addressing election meeting at Meau on December 06, 2017.   | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji

The Patidar factor or their anger seems to be your biggest challenge. What’s your assessment?

When the agitation began, there was more support. But we have been able to address the issues by starting new schemes for non-reserved categories, including Patidars. For example, when a boy or a girl who takes admission to a self-financing college or a government institution, the Gujarat government pays 50% of the tuition fee. It covers engineering or medical colleges.

When a rural student stays in a hostel, the government now pays up to ₹1,200 of the food bill. From primary to Class 12 students, books and uniforms are given by the government. Earlier, these used to be given to only students of SC and ST but we have done away with the distinction.

After Congress leader Kapil Sibal offered a formula for reservation to PAAS leaders, your comment that a “foolish formula had been offered to fools” became controversial, as insulting your community.

I had said the Supreme Court, through various judgments, has made it clear that there can be no reservation beyond the existing ceiling (50% reservation limit). Despite knowing this, a well-known lawyer like Kapil Sibal had offered a formula. He himself knows that it will be struck down in one appeal. But to take political advantage, he misled everyone. The Congress, even till this minute, has still not made the formula public. When such a big lawyer, after knowing Supreme Court judgments, offer a formula then it is making fools out of those fellows who are part of their [PAAS] core group. I didn’t say anything insulting about our community.

Gujarat Deputy CM Shri Nitin Patel addressing election meeting at Meau near Mehsana, Gujarat on December 06, 2017.

Gujarat Deputy CM Shri Nitin Patel addressing election meeting at Meau near Mehsana, Gujarat on December 06, 2017.   | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji

 

The Congress has also questioned your development model and has alleged that ‘vikas’ has gone mad. Your response?

If they are fighting an election, they have to say something for campaigning. You are travelling around the State and you must have seen how good the roads are. Look at our power situation, look at our water supply or our agriculture. We have the best of best infrastructure in Gujarat. Whether it is a tribal village or a remote part of the State, every part has good connectivity and good infrastructure.

Rahul Gandhi is campaigning hard in Gujarat this time. His rallies are being well attended and it is being said that people are listening to what he has to say. How do you view it?

Even in this small village, people of all ages have come — from children to seniors. So people come to see him as well but it does not mean that they will vote. And the Congress also gets people from ‘outside’ to fill its meetings. When a leader or an actor comes, people come to see them but it doesn’t mean they will get support. Even during Indira ji’s time there used to be people. Sonia Gandhi also used to come to Gujarat frequently yet we have been ruling the State for 22 years.

In recent times, they have lost eight State elections and more recently, they got wiped out in Uttar Pradesh. Last week, in civic polls, they lost even Amethi that has been with them for the last 50 years.

Mr. Gandhi hasn’t said anything about that. It is clear that people these days want to see work and not go by name alone.

Gujarat state assembly election will be held on December 9 and 14, 2017.

Gujarat state assembly election will be held on December 9 and 14, 2017.   | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji

 

The Congress and Mr. Gandhi have raised the issue of price rise or ‘monghvari’ in Gujarati and people are connecting with the issue. What’s your take?

Price rise has two aspects. A farmer wants good price for his produce and the consumer wants the same at minimum price. As a government, it is our responsibility to manage both. Many a time when there is a temporary surge, it naturally applies to all equally. It is not as if prices have gone up because there is a BJP government in Gujarat.

In Karnataka, there is a Congress government and tomatoes, potatoes and onions would be similarly priced. Or in Kerala where there is a Communist government, prices of vegetables would be similar.

How many seats will the BJP get in these elections?

We have already accepted the challenge of 150 plus seats. We have done good work and people’s faith and support are with us.

You don’t think there is anti-incumbency?

We don’t have anti-incumbency as we have delivered. Governments that don’t work start feeling anti-incumbency but our ministers, MLAs, workers all go and work among the people. Nobody can tell us that we have come to the people after five years. We firmly believe that we will get 150 seats.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 8:21:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/gujarat-2017/there-is-no-anti-incumbency-in-gujarat-as-we-have-delivered-says-deputy-cm-nitinbhai-patel/article21291945.ece

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