New Delhi: In the new Gujarat CM Bhupendra Patel’s cabinet, one minister who has got the same number of portfolios as the CM is Harsh Sanghavi.
38-year-old Sanghavi has been allocated nine portfolios — Home, disaster management and police housing; MoS in sports, youth and cultural activities, NRI, excise and prohibition, border security and prisons. Before Sanghavi, Pradip Singh Jadeja, Amit Shah, Haren Pandya and Gordhan Zadafia have served as the home minister of Gujarat under the BJP regime.
Meanwhile, CM Patel holds the portfolio of the home department, general administration department, information and broadcast, industries, mines and minerals, capital projects, urban development, urban housing and Narmada and ports.
Who is Harsh Sanghavi?
Sanghavi was the youngest MLA in 2012 when he was elected for the first time at the age of 27 from Majura constituency.
He was the state chief of BJP Yuva Morcha since 2010. In the past, Sanghavi has also worked with Anurag Thakur, now the Minister of Information & Broadcasting, and MP Poonam Mahajan, when they were BJP youth wing president.
But it was his work as an MLA during the Covid pandemic, his decision to organise job fairs for unemployed youths and to set up book banks in his constituency Surat, and his work in tribal areas that made him one of the most sought-after young faces within the Gujarat BJP.
He was also one of the backroom boys in PM Modi’s constituency Varanasi during the 2014 Lok Sabha election and played a key role in reaching out to the Indian diaspora ahead of PM Modi’s events. This led him to become one of the trusted lieutenants of PM Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and current BJP state president C.R. Paatil.
During the 2017 assembly election, Sanghavi, under the guidance of Paatil, played a key role in organising PM Modi’s roadshow in Surat. During the roadshow, PM Modi’s convoy was led by 50,000 youth son 2,500 bikes. The rally also included 3D laser shows and an 11 km-long saree with names of various government schemes printed on it was also tied along the route.
Janakbhai M. Patel, Gujarat BJP vice president, told ThePrint that the PM was impressed with Sanghavi’s organisational capabilities.
“It was not only Sanghavi’s organisational work, but social work during both the first and second wave of the pandemic that was praiseworthy. He was the first MLA to start 200 isolation wards in Surat municipal corporation hall, other MLAs followed him after seeing his well-equipped isolation ward. During the second wave, he was seen wearing PPE kit during his visit to hospitals, and he arranged oxygen cylinders and beds for critical patients,” he said.
Patel said Sanghavi’s decision to set up book banks in his area for people who cannot afford to buy books and organising employment fairs annually has made him a youth icon in the state.
Sanghavi, however, also courted controversy when amid a shortage of anti-viral drug remdesivir during the second wave of Covid, the BJP leader distributed 5,000 Remdesivir injections free of cost.
He later told the Gujarat High Court that the vials of the anti-viral drug were distributed to the needy patients from the BJP’s office in Surat on grounds of “compassion and humanity”.
Surat — an important constituency
Several other BJP leaders ThePrint spoke to said Sanghavi’s work for the youth and tribals are the reasons for his success.
Referring to him as a ‘workaholic’, state BJP leader Sandeep described how Sanghavi began working in tribal areas on sickle cell anaemia after one of his friends died of the disease.
Another BJP leader said Sanghavi’s involvement in reaching out to the Indian diaspora ahead of Modi’s foreign tours, be it his 2014 visit to Australia or 2017 Israel visit are the factors behind the 38-year-old leader’s political success.
However, a former Gujarat minister said Paatil ensured Sanghavi gets home department to keep a check on administration in the state, especially Surat, ahead of the 2022 assembly election.
Surat is crucial for the BJP as it was the epicentre of the Patidar quota agitation in 2015-16.
CM Patel’s cabinet includes four ministers from Surat — Purnesh Modi, Harsh Sanghavi, Vinu Mordia, and Mukesh Patel. Even Paatil and MoS for Railways Darshana Jardosh are from Surat.
Senior BJP leaders also say the BJP’s decision to allocate home portfolio to Sanghavi has a political message, adding that the decision-makers — Modi, Shah, and Paatil — reached a consensus on his name for the post of state home minister.