Guj BJP legislature party likely to meet on Sunday to choose new CM

Gujarat CM Rupani resigns ahead of the end of term

Gandhinagar:- The Gujarat BJP legislature party is likely to meet on Sunday to choose the new chief minister following Vijay Rupani’s resignation, a party spokesperson said on Saturday. Union Minister Amit Shah is most likely to join the legislature party meeting along with central observers. The meeting is to be held at state BJP HQ at Kamalam.

Putting an end to all speculations about a change of guard over his government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Saturday tendered his resignation to Gujarat Governor Acharya Devvrat at his residence, Raj Bhavan in Gandhinagar. This development comes even as the state assembly elections are more than a year away.

“I am a loyal soldier of the BJP and have resigned of my own accord. Nobody has asked me to do so. I will work to strengthen the organisation or whatever role the party leadership assigns me,” Rupani told the reporters at the governor’s residence after tendering the resignation.

“I am just a worker of the organisation and will continue to be so. For the upcoming state Assembly elections, definitely our PM Modi will be the face,” Rupani said, when asked who will be the face of the elections, as he and the party earlier had declared that the 2022 elections will be led by him.

According to national general secretary in charge of Gujarat Bhupender Yadav, the BJP has convened a meeting of its legislature party on Sunday to elect a new leader. Union Home Minister Amit Shah is reaching here on Sunday.

“The BJP legislature party is likely to meet on Sunday, but we will be able to confirm this once the central parliamentary board conveys the exact time of the meeting to us. All BJP MLAs will attend the meeting along with central observers,” said Yamal Vyas, the BJP spokesperson at Kamalam.

“The name of the new CM will be decided in the meeting. Being the Parliament constituency legislator, Amit Shah is also likely to be at the meeting,” Vyas added.

The saffron party is yet to announce Rupani’s replacement. But, political pundits are speculating a number of faces looking at the current scenario.

Praful Patel, the administrator of Union Territories of Lakshadweep and Daman and Diu is one such face that is likely to replace Rupani. He is believed to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.

Speculations are also rife that one of the state general secretaries Gordhan Zadaphia, a Patidar, may be given the mantle, though there is no official indication. Zadaphia was the home minister in the Modi government in Gujarat in 2002, during the infamous Godhra riots and believed to be a hardliner right wing face of the saffron party.

This is besides Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, who is also a Patidar and his name has been cropping up for the post during the last one year.

The new political developments began on Saturday morning after BJP national general secretary (organisation) B.L. Santhosh landed at the Ahmedabad airport, driving straight to the party headquarters Shri Kamalam in Gandhinagar.

Soon after a closed door meeting started in which Santhosh, Gujarat BJP President C.R. Paatil and newly-appointed state general secretary (Organisation) Ratnakar, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel participated. Thereafter both Rupani and Patel drove down to the Raj Bhavan to tender the resignation.

Rupani and Patel were accompanied by all the cabinet ministers. They were joined by union ministers Mansukh Mandaviya and Parshottam Rupala, both Patidars, at the governor’s residence.

Vijay Rupani took the state’s Chief Ministerial position on August 7, 2016, and is representing Rajkot (West) in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly. The saffron party held a nine day statewide event in Gujarat, just last month celebrating the five years of Rupani in office.

It should be noted that, Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president, Amit Chavda at that time had said that it was an indication of Rupani’s exit as the BJP had miserably failed on all fronts in fighting the second surge of Covid-19 in Gujarat. Rupani, however had rubbished the claim.

It is learnt from sources that most probably the party will declare Rupani’s replacement by Monday, after the legislature party meet on Sunday.

Rupani fourth BJP’s CM to be replaced in last 6 months

New Delhi:-Vijay Rupani became the fourth BJP’s chief minister to be replaced in the last six months. In a surprise move, Rupani on Saturday resigned as Chief Minister of Gujarat almost 15 months before state polls, becoming fourth chief minister to be changed in six months in three states – Uttarakhand, Karnataka and Gujarat.

In March, the saffron party replaced Uttarkhand then chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat with Lok Sabha member Tirath Singh Rawat. In July, four months after being made chief minister, Tirath Singh Rawat was replaced by two time MLA Pushkar Singh Dhami. After Uttarakhand, BJP replaced B.S. Yediyurappa with B.S. Bommai.

A party leader claimed that chief ministers in Gujarat and Karnataka were replaced to bring in new leadership in the state. “In Karnataka, there was strong resentment against the chief minister and his son. Similarly there was demand in Gujarat unit for removal of Rupani by a section of the party saying it will be difficult to win next year’s state polls under his leadership,” he said.

While in Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat was replaced to bring in a new face but Tirath Singh Rawat removed due his failure to get elected to state assembly within six months of being sworn in as chief minister of state.

Among all the replacement of BJP chief ministers, the current change of guard in Gujarat took place without any buzz. “There was a discussion and demand from a section in the party to change the chief minister but no one expected that news would come this way. We have no idea that it will be announced after submitting resignation,” a party leader from Gujarat said.

In March, before replacing Trivendra Singh Rawat, the BJP had sent two members to the state, which included former Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh, to collect feedback. Similarly before replacing Tirath Singh Rawat, the BJP central leadership had called him to the national capital and explained to him about the constitutional and legal crisis. Amid months of speculation about a change of guard in Karnataka, Yediyurappa had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and top BJP leadership. Yediyurappa took his time and resigned after completion of two years of his government in July.

Replacing Rupani might help BJP beat anti-incumbency

Strong resentment among BJP cadre at ground level against him is one of the main reasons for removal of Vijay Rupani from the post of Gujarat chief minister, sources told IANS.

Rupani on Saturday resigned from the office. A section in the party believes that the decision to replace the chief minister might help the party beat anti-incumbency against the government among its own cadre.

While there is no clarity at what exactly led to Rupani’s resignation, saffron party sources said that there are many reasons for removal of Rupani and there was strong resentment against him among party cadre.

“There was a strong resentment among cadre against Rupani. His popularity is low among BJP workers. The removal of Rupani will help the party control the dissent at ground well in advance ahead of next year’s assembly polls. In other words we can say that the move might help the party beat anti-incumbency against the government and the chief minister among its own cadre,” a BJP leader said.

It is learnt that while discussing the reasons for Rupani’s removal, the party leadership decided keeping workers unhappy will adversely affect the party’s electoral performance in the state polls, which is all set to become triangular with the entry of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

Another leader pointed out that it is a political course correction ahead of assembly polls. “By bringing a new face, BJP will try to address the issue of social engineering in the state, which played a crucial role in state politics,” he said.

A party insider claimed that Rupani lacks the quality of fire brand leader and may not be able to take on Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which is all set to contest state polls scheduled in November – December next year. “He (Rupani) was good in executing the given works or assignments, but lacked the quality we needed in our chief ministerial candidate to take on Congress and AAP in assembly polls. Workers are demanding a leader who can lead the party from the front under guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and union home minister Amit Shah,” he said.

Rupani took the state’s Chief Ministerial position on August 7, 2016, and is representing Rajkot West in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly. It is learnt from sources that the party will declare Rupani’s replacement by Sunday.