Vadodara: Fifty-four-year-old Saurabh Patel, an MBA from the US and related to the Dhirubhai Ambani family through marriage, is a key face in Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's army of election campaigners. Since the exit and arrest of former home minister Amit Shah in fake encounter cases, it's Saurabh Patel who's seen as Modi's closest aide. And as he campaigns in the Akota constituency in Vadodara, questions are already being asked if he would take over in Gujarat in case Modi moves to a national role.
Saurabh Patel, however, remains nonchalant. "These are all figment of the media's imagination. Narendra Modi is our leader and we only want to talk of 2012. Neither the past nor the future."
However, the fact that he's important was reiterated by the fact that he was allowed to shift from an unsafe rural seat in Bhavnagar to Akota, a safe urban seat in Vadodara, a luxury Modi rarely concedes. And in Akota, as the Congress claims he's an outsider, Patel has ensured everything goes right, even reaching out to professionals at a BPO as part of his campaign.
An excellent rapport with the industry and a decent standing within the party, Saurabh Patel is tipped to succeed Modi, but a big 'if' here would be - if Narendra Modi seeks greener politcal pastures. Those greener pastures in national politics will only be possible if Modi gets a convincing, near two-thirds majority in Gujarat. "I am confident the BJP will win a huge and overwhelming record majority," says a beaming Saurabh Patel.