Dejected Saurabh Patel might soon be in Delhi

Vol 19, PW 24 (11 Aug 16) People & Policy

Saurabh Patel might soon be heading to Delhi to help Narendra Modi push through the landmark Goods and Services Tax bill, senior BJP sources tell this report.

In a surprise move Patel, 57, a close confidante of Modi since his days as Gujarat chief minister, was dropped as state energy minister on August 7. Several rumours are circulating about why Patel, who also handled the important finance and industries department, was replaced.

One is his inability to stem a constant barrage of Congress allegations that GSPC and Modi in particular benefited from an alleged Rs20,000cr ($3bn) scam at the Deen Dayal West field. "Modi is a master politician and doesn't like dents in his image," says a political observer.

"Patel mis-judged the intensity of the Congress onslaught and failed to properly challenge the allegations." Another theory is that Modi is embarrassed by Patel's links with the Ambanis. Patel is the son-in-law of Ramnikbhai Ambani, elder brother of Reliance founder Dhirubhai Ambani.

"What role Patel will have in Delhi is unclear," says a BJP source. "But more than likely Modi will use his help to push through the Goods and Services Tax bill." Patel has already played an important role in preliminary negotiations on the bill with several states.