From a first-time MLA when he was catapulted into the CM’s chair in the state last time, Bhupendra Patel is now a confident second term leader. He set a “100-days target” at the first Cabinet briefing on December 22, barely 10 days after the BJP’s historic win in the Gujarat Assembly elections were announced on December 12.
Patel’s goal for his second innings lays special focus on infrastructure and on achieving the Central government’s targets, primarily Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal of making India a “five trillion dollar economy.”
Politically, a BJP insider admitted, the government seems to be working on wiping out all issues that the Opposition, especially the AAP, raised during the recent polls. One decision being cited is regarding land resurvey, an issue the AAP raked in deep.
Since the new government took oath on December 12, it has convened only one Assembly session of two days (Dec 22-23), where only one Bill — on regularising illegal real estate constructions — was passed unanimously. Patel’s Cabinet recently announced a scheme to regularise unauthorised buildings in industrial estates run by the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) across the state, a move hailed by the industry, especially MSMEs, as it will help regularise some 30,000 illegal structures.
Alongside, the Patel government has announced a project to castrate around 50,000 bulls and rehabilitate them in cattle pounds run by organisations which get assistance under the Gaumata Poshan Yojana. This is being done to end the stray menace, once and for all.
The CM leads the second-smallest BJP government in the state since 1998, with just 16 ministers, compared to the last term when he had a 24-member Cabinet. Patel, who alone held 13 portfolios in the last term, now has 18, with Prohibition and Excise, and Science and Technology additions. Significantly, Prohibition and Excise, the department that ensures compliance with the state’s anti-alcohol law, was earlier handled by the MoS (Home).
In the last term, two ministers were appointed as government spokespersons, one of whom — Rajendra Trivedi — was stripped of his primary portfolio, revenue, reportedly in the wake of several complaints. In the second term, the government has so far appointed only one spokesperson — Law and Health minister Rushikesh Patel.
Two high-profile retired bureaucrats — Hasmukh Adhia and S.S. Rathore — have been appointed advisors to the CM and assigned specific sectors. Adhia, a former finance secretary in the Union government, has been appointed as chief advisor to the CM, whereas Rathore, a retired secretary of the Roads and Buildings department, has been appointed as a second advisor.
According to highly-placed sources, these two appointments clearly spell-out the priorities of the state government — strengthening the state’s economy and its infrastructure.
Gujarat will also host 15 of the G-20 meetings, on tourism and urban sectors, which are due to begin late January. Their promotions have already begun, with the state government redesigning its official stationery with the G-20 logo, and the logo and the slogan splashed across the landing page of its websites.
In addition, the state government has launched a WhatsApp bot number on which people can write directly to the CM’s Office with their suggestions and grievances. Besides, a grievance redressal system has been set up in all eight of Gujarat’s municipal corporations under the CM Dashboard application. Through this, Patel said, monitoring can be done at the ward level on the time taken to resolve a citizen’s complaint.
The government has launched a mega drive against loan sharks, with instructions to senior police officials to convene Lok Darbars. Till January 13, 464 FIRs were registered against 762 persons across the state.
The state government has also shown an interest in employment-creating avenues. Many government departments and bodies are likely to come up with recruitment drives shortly, shared a bureaucrat close to Gandhinagar’s power centers.
Also Read: Modi Will Again Be PM In 2024: Shah