Ahmedabad: Saurabh Patel, industry and power minister in the Gujarat government, is being tipped as the front-runner to replace chief minister Narendra Modi if the latter moves to national politics after the state election this month. Patel said in an interview that the economic progress achieved by Gujarat in 10 years of rule by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under Modi will counter any anti-incumbency effect. Edited excerpts:
What are the issues on which the BJP is fighting this election?
In the last 10 years, we’ve seen a lot of development in this state and we’re fighting on the issue of development. Next 10 years’ vision and next five years are going to be very crucial for the state of Gujarat. So, whatever plans we’ve made, we’d like to (implement to) take our state forward.
What are the state government’s achievements in the last five years?
In the last five years, development on all fronts, whether it is infrastructure, education, power, or roads and employment, has taken place. Even our farmers are much better off, our agricultural growth is much better off than the country’s agricultural growth. Our total (growth in) GDP (gross domestic product) is much better than the country’s GDP (growth). So, on all fronts we’re doing pretty well.
What impact will Keshubhai Patel’s party have on the BJP’s prospects in this election?
We are not worried on that front. We are going to the public with work done by us in the last 10 years and what we would do in the next five years.
In Gujarat, Patel voters are seen as a decisive factor. Don’t you think Keshubhai Patel will get the sympathy of fellow Patel voters?
There are six crore people and all are with Narendrabhai. Everyone has been benefited because of the policies of this government and hence we feel that they’ll be voting more for the BJP candidates. Voting would be on the basis of our achievements and not only on caste basis.
How about the anti-incumbency factor against Modi?
You go to the villages and you’ll see the anti-incumbency is not there. You’ll find it surprising, but the people of Gujarat know what the chief minister and the government have done for them...this will be proved on the 20th (of December when the election results are scheduled to be declared).
It is being speculated that you will take charge of the Gujarat government in case Modi moves to central politics...
That is the imagination of the media. The chief minister has done a wonderful job and the people of Gujarat love him.