The Gujarat BJP legislature party is likely to meet on Sunday at 3 PM to choose the new chief minister following Vijay Rupani’s resignation, sources told CNN-News18, adding that Union Ministers Prahlad Joshi and Narendra Tomar will come to Ahmedabad as the Central observers. They are expected to reach by 11 AM on Sunday.
The new chief minister will most likely take oath on Monday, sources said.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah may join the legislature party meeting along with central observers, said state BJP spokesperson Yamal Vyas. Sources had told News18 the HM is on his way to Ahmedabad, and would reach by the night.
In a sudden development, chief minister Rupani resigned on Saturday, over a year before the assembly elections. Rupani, 65, was sworn in as chief minister his second stint as CM - in December 2017. I have resigned as chief minister of Gujarat, Rupani told reporters after meeting Governor Acharya Devvrat and submitting his resignation letter.
“I am leaving with pride," Rupani told News18 Gujarat, adding that he is a loyal worker of the BJP and a common man and would remain one.
Right after the resignation, Rupani said he was doing so “for Gujarat’s development" and “would take on a new role assigned by the BJP leadership". Legislative Assembly elections in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state are due next year.
“I want to thank BJP for giving me this opportunity to serve as Gujarat’s CM. During my tenure, I got the opportunity to add to the development of the state under PM Modi’s leadership," Rupani said.
Meanwhile, Vyas spoke to reporters after a meeting of senior leaders including national general secretary B L Santhosh and Union minister Bhupender Yadav at the party headquarters ‘Kamalam’ here and said, “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."
The name of the new CM will be decided in the meeting, he added. Santhosh and Bhupender Yadav met senior Gujarat BJP leaders including state unit chief C R Paatil, deputy chief minister Nitin Patel, ministers Bhupendrasinh Chudasama and Pradipsinh Jadeja, state BJP general secretaries Pradipsinh Vaghela and Rajubhai Patel, and party’s chief whip in the Assembly Pankaj Desai. Rupani did a lot of development work as chief minister and took Gujarat to new heights, Vyas said.
“It is a common process in the BJP…he will be given a new responsibility. He was earlier state president, then became chief minister, and now he will take up a new responsibility," the spokesperson added.
Next CM a Patel?
Meanwhile, sources told CNN-News18 that the next Chief Minister of Gujarat is likely to be from the Patel community. With his stepping aside, the race for a new CM face has begun in Gujarat and the names at the forefront include Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, Union Health Minister Mansukh Madaviya, Lakshadweep administrator Praful Patel, state Cabinet minister RC Faldu and Gujarat BJP chief CR Paatil.
However, later during the day C R Paatil said he was not in the race for the CM post. “We, together with the new CM, will try to win 182 seats out of 182," he said, referring to the assembly elections next year.
Other names doing the rounds in BJP and RSS circles are those of Gordhan Zadafia and Parshottam Rupala. Zadafia is BJP vice-president in Gujarat, and was minister of state for home during the 2002 riots. Read here to know more about the frontrunners for the CM post now.
4th BJP CM to Resign in Recent Months
Rupani has become the fourth BJP leader to resign from the top post as in recent months, three Chief Ministers from two BJP-led states also quit from the post which caused a major political crisis in the party. BJP leader BS Yediyurappa resigned as Karnataka Chief Minister on July 26, the day his government completed two years in office. The Governor had accepted Yediyurappa’s resignation and dissolved the Council of Ministers headed by him, with immediate effect.
On March 9, Trivendra Singh Rawat resigned as the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, ending days of speculations about a leadership change in the BJP-ruled hill state amid reports of discontent against him. Rawat submitted his resignation to Governor Baby Rani Maurya at Raj Bhawan after meeting the central BJP leadership in Delhi.
After Trivendra Singh Rawat’s resignation, Tirath Singh Rawat was elected as the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand. However, barely four months after taking charge as the head of the state, Tirath Singh Rawat submitted his resignation from the post on July 2. In a surprise move, he reached the Governor House around 11 pm and submitted his resignation papers.
Reasons Behind Resignation?
If sources are to be believed, the party was not so confident of facing the next elections in Gujarat under his leadership. Rupani in his resignation speech spoke of “Nayi Urja and Naya Utsaah" as the reason for choosing a new Chief Minister.
Even in the last elections, the Congress in Gujarat had put up a spirited performance and run the BJP real close, and ultimately it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign in the state that is said to have saved the day for the BJP. With the party being in power for nearly two decades now in Gujarat and Rupani not seen as the most dynamic face, the change of guard 15 months before the elections paves the way for the party to select a new leader to counter anti-incumbency. The same could reflect in the ticket distribution next year as well when a number of sitting MLAs could be dropped, sources say.
Political experts also said Rupani’s ‘soft-spoken image’ and letting bureaucrats to overrule the political leadership in taking key decisions may have contributed to his image of being a ‘weak’ CM.
The way he handled the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic and social fallouts are likely reasons behind his downfall, some observers told PTI.