In a candid chat with DNA’s Nikunj Soni, senior BJP leader and Gujarat revenue minister Anandiben Patel said that she would not be the chief minister. She believes that the entire state wants to see Narendra Modi as the chief minister. Regarding high voter turnout in the state, she denied any anti-incumbency factor and said that poor people always voted for the Congress but this time urban people have come out for voting and they are supporters of the BJP. Excerpts:
How important is this election for the BJP?
This election is important as it is based on the sole issue of development. Earlier, polls were fought on issues like caste and community, money transaction, flow of liquor and threatening tactics.
This election is important for your political career...
It's not going to increase anything; everything will remain as it is.
To which factors will you attribute high turnout in the first phase?
It is due to the awareness of the people. Women and youngsters are in favour of the BJP. They have seen, felt and enjoyed development; they came out spontaneously and this is the result.
It is believed that high turnout means anti-incumbency voting?
I don’t believe in this theory, because high voting always benefits the BJP.
The poor give votes to Congress; people belonging to higher classes do not come out for voting. Urban voters always favour BJP and there is huge voting in urban areas. Hence, BJP will benefit.
People had voted out Mayawati and the Left in West Bengal.
Mayawati went out of power due to her acts. What would happen if you put your statues everywhere?
Chandrababu Naidu was praised for development but people voted him out, too.
He had done development at only two places, Hyderabad and Secunderabad. BJP has done development all over, including rural areas.
Right now you are revenue minister. Any plan for a higher position?
There is no such thing like seniority-juniority. What will be a higher position than cabinet minister? I'm not going to become the chief minister.
You are among the claimants to the CM post?
Media is writing this, have we told you anything? It will be decided by the party only.
What have you done for women?
We have reduced dropout rate of school-going girls to 3% from 38%. The CM has allocated Rs1,700 crore to Sakhimandals. Women have been exempted from giving registration fee for property, with 13 lakh of them registered with women. They got benefits of Rs451 crore due to the scheme. We have also run the dream mission of Beti Bachao.
Modi is blaming Sonia, Rahul and PM on every issue. Will he become PM in 2014?
All Indians wish that Modi should come to the Centre. It is natural that the chief minister will give reply if some come and go and spread lies that there is no power and no development in Gujarat.
What is reason behind not contesting from Patan?
There is no reason for not contesting from Patan. Did any journalist question me when I was contesting polls from Mandal or Patan? It's a challenge to fight from some other seat. Not only that, Mandal and Patan both were challenging and after I left we never lost. Even this time, we will win from Patan.
You are the woman face of BJP; who else comprise the party’s woman leadership?
It is not like that. Vasuben Trivedi (MoS higher education and women-child development), Jayshree Patel (MP and president of the BJP women cell), Jasumatiben Korat (MLA from Jetpur) and Bhanuben Babariya (MLA from Rajkot Rural) have got opportunities. Supposedly, they are doing good work than male peers.
Will your daughter Anar take ahead your legacy?
No. The relatives will naturally support their family members but it does not mean that they will fight the election in future. In fact, there is no nepotism in the BJP.
How many seats will BJP get?
I don’t want to go into numbers, but it will get the maximum seats and higher than in 2007.