A comprehensive cross section of people in Gujarat feel that ‘talk of Gujarat slowing down after Modi is not true’… there is no worry about anything — be it decision-making, control or a stagnation of growth… because the systems are already in place and now it’s just about following them. ‘You know why I don’t worry — because just like every other State, even Gujarat will eventually be answerable to the Centre, and that’s where Modi is.’…
Aap hi ne bhej diya Delhi’, Narendra Modi told waiting supporters in Vadodara during his speech after leading BJP to a thundering win in the Lok Sabha elections. And while the noise of celebrations may have muted the big question, it will certainly rear its head in the near future: how willGujarat cope without Modi as Chief Minister? We spoke to people who are in important positions in the industrial, educational, medical and sports sectors in the State — people who rode Gujarat’s development wave — and asked them: what now? Is there a sense of insecurity? “No insecurity at all — the only requirement to develop now is money because all the policies are in the pipeline” Jigar Patel, executive director of the Sigma Group of Institutes told Firstpost. Sigma was started in 2002 offering just one course and 400 students. Today, they offer seven degrees, have 8000 students and include the Leeds Institute of Technology & Engineering as one of their associates. Clearly Sigma has grown in the Modi era and taken its advantage.
Patel says that the Modi Government made a huge difference to education in the State: “In the last 10 years and with many degrees coming under the umbrella of one university, the number of seats for students has phenomenally risen. Students get admission not by chance now, but by choice. And these things are not going to change with Modi going to the centre.” Nitin Makad heads Innovative Tyres and Tubes Ltd. — a company based in Halol which has a turnover of more than Rs 125 crore. Makad’s company supplies tyres to more than 25 countries in the world and he says that while he is happy that Modi will now be at the Centre, the focus he had on development will need to be recreated by the new CM. “Nothing can match the focus on development that Modi had. The way he marketed the State will need to be continued so that the graph does not dip. But I still think he will take care of Gujarat,” said the 58-year-old, who is also vice president of the Federation of Gujarat Industries. Makad said that for industries, it will not matter who’s heading the State because ‘Gujaratis are enterprising and find solutions on their own’ — but mentioned two things that the baton carriers will have to ensure: “Modi ensured consistent and quality power for industries to run, and there was good governance. These need to be continued for us to flourish.”
Makad also believes that Gujarat has it’s own features which it can sell — something that Modi exploited to its potential. However, he thinks that ‘Brand Gujarat’ will definitely take a hit when it comes to outsiders looking at Gujarat as a place to invest. However, Patel thinks differently: “Modi will have more reach as a Prime Minister as compared to when he was Chief Minister. The brand of the state won’t be hit, because the selling point is still the Gujarat model — something that is now being talked about countrywide.” But Dr Mahesh Patel, one of Gujarat’s top orthopaedic doctor and knee replacement expert is worried about one thing – decision making: “There’s no doubt that decision making will be affected. Modi’s regime was vital in promoting the health industry — the process of making decisions on building of hospitals and clinics was quick and this could be affected. But talk of Gujarat slowing down is not true,” said Patel, who owns Navrang hospital in Vadodara. Sigma’s Jigar Patel and Makad also voiced a slight concern over decision making.
While the former takes consolation that the people who head the State have been chosen by Modi himself and will have worked under him, the latter thinks a slow down in decision making will percolate from the top and affect everybody: “There will be a change surely. But more important than decision-making is the implementation and control. To maintain the same control will be hard because it’s going to be more diluted.” Sandeep Desai, who has been vital in the growth of football in the State, has absolutely no problems with Modi now being PM. Desai, who is secretary of the Baroda District Football Association, started his football club when there was virtually no spotlight on school and club football and has been impressed with Modi’s work in developing every sport. “The Khelmahakumbh is a huge example of the man’s vision,” he said about the State-wide sports competition where everything — from archery to swimming and basketball — is played among rural and urban areas in Gujarat. “For me, there is no worry about anything — be it decision-making, control or a stagnation of growth. Gujarat will not lose out, because the systems are already in place and now it’s just about following them. You know why I don’t worry — because just like every other State, even Gujarat will eventually be answerable to the centre, and that’s where Modi is.”