Barely a year after exiting office, Anandiben Patel has once again become a key power centre in Gujarat BJP. If BJP leaders in Gujarat are to be believed, Anandiben will play an important role in the upcoming state elections due later this year. “She is giving inputs to PM Modi directly and on many occasions, he has preferred her advice than that of party president, Amit Shah or CM Rupani,” a poll strategist working closely with Gujarat BJP said.
With Anandiben Patel regaining her clout, a turf war is also brewing between her and party president Amit Shah. “A casual observer may find the Sabarmati as calm and serene as it was a year ago, but the more serious political observer will tell you that a lot of stuff has flown down the Sabarmati in the last one year since the exit of CM Anandiben Patel,” a senior Ahmedabad-based journalist said.
Gujarat CM, Vijay Rupani is considered a close aide of Amit Shah. “Not many, however, are aware that the former CM Anandiben Patel has been assiduously working towards strengthening her influence at the PMO,” the journalist added.
According to highly-placed sources, Anandiben is learnt to have told PM Modi that whatever little chance Congress has got in the state election, is due to the victory of Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha polls. Her contention is that Shah made the fight personal with Ahmed Patel, ostensibly to settle old scores, which may eventually cost the BJP dear in Gujarat.
She is believed to have told PM Modi that Shah committed the blunder of putting BJP’s prestige at stake for one Rajya Sabha seat and gave the contest importance it didn’t deserve. “We have now woken up the sleeping viper,” she is believed to have told PM. ‘Sleeping viper’ is a term used in political circles for Congress stalwart Ahmed Patel.
Though the said Rajya Sabba election does not have any direct bearing on voters, political watchers say it has enthused workers. Patel is also learnt to have told PM that Patidar community trust on the party also suffered a setback due to her unceremonious ouster.
Anandiben Patel was removed as Gujarat CM last year after completing 75 years of age. It is, however, speculated that news of her daughter’s business deals was not taken kindly by PM or Amit Shah. “There is a possibility she might be rehabilitated ahead of elections,” a BJP Gujarat insider said.