In a biting commentary on how Gujarat is run, Congress’ State Election incharge and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot alleged that retired bureaucrat and Narendra Modi confidant K. Kailashnathan ran the State.
“In Gujarat it is not Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel but K Kailashnathan who runs the State “, Gehlot said.
Gehlot is a senior observer of the Gujarat Congress for the forthcoming elections. He said, “Gujarat CM Bhupendra Patel is a very simple man. We recently saw him walking behind PM Narendra Modi’s convoy. Itna bhala aadmi bhi koi kaam ka nahi hota. (Even such a good man is of no use). It is not him but K Kailashnathan who runs Gujarat. Earlier, it was Amit Shah who took decisions, now, it is Kailashnathan”, Gehlot claimed.
K Kailashnathan, or KK as he is popularly known, worked as a principal secretary to then CM Narendra Modi and retired as an IAS officer in 2013. He is a close aide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The 1979 batch IAS officer is the Chief Principal Secretary to Gujarat CM Bhupendra Patel. KK was the Chief Principal Secretary to the CM in the previous governments of Anandiben Patel and Vijay Rupani as well.
Gehlot was all praise for the Rajasthan model and promised to export it to Gujarat if Congress came to power. He said “Rajasthan Government provides free healthcare facilities to people. We will implement the same in Gujarat and also provide free organ donations to needy people–to save their lives and provide them with a better standard of living. Secondly, we will distribute 1 crore smartphones to people– along with free internet services for over a year.”
Rajasthan roads are better than the ones in Gujarat, alleged Gehlot. He said, “Earlier Rajasthan had poor road conditions but now, it is Gujarat that lacks good roads. The roads are so bad that I realise we have entered Gujarat (from Rajasthan) even when I’m asleep. Just go to the outskirts of Vadodara or Surat and you will see the reality. There are potholes and uneven patchwork all over the road.”
Along with BJP, Gehlot also attacked Aam Aadmi Party supremo Arvind Kejriwal and dubbed him as similar to PM Modi as “Kejriwal is like PM Modi’s brother. He talks of making India number one but first he should emphasise on his own State.”
Gehlot said the Congress’s strength is in the villages, where it has a strong organisation at the booth level. He said, “People may think we are not, but we are campaigning well in Gujarat. We are strong in villages. We may be weak in cities. But we hope this time people will realise what they (BJP) has done in 27 years. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi has categorically said to watch out for the silent Congress campaign. “There is a huge build-up. The campaign is on. It is wrong to say we are not in the fight in Gujarat,” he added.
Gujarat has 182 assembly seats–55 seats in four major urban centres of Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot and 127 semi-urban and rural constituencies. In the 2017 Assembly elections BJP picked up as many as 44 out of 55 seats in urban centres and Congress won 11 seats. Out of 127 rural constituencies, the Congress clocked victories in 72, against 55 of the BJP.
When asked about Congress leader and MP Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Gujarat, Gehlot said, “Rahul Gandhi and other senior party members are also likely to visit Gujarat before the Gujarat elections.”
Increasing inflation in the country was another aspect that Gehlot emphasised. “What will the commoner eat? Look at the prices of cooking oil. A commoner bears the brunt of political gimmicks. In Rajasthan, we provide a meal for just Rs 17. This should be the case in Gujarat as well.”