In yet another surprise, the BJP on Saturday dropped Vijay Rupani as the Chief Minister of Gujarat just 15 months ahead of the state going to polls to arrest anti-incumbency. LIVE UPDATES: Gujarat BJP Legislature Party Meeting Likely Tomorrow
This is the fourth Chief Minister that the BJP has dropped this year across three states, after the twin change of guard in Uttarakhand and BS Yediyurappa in Karnataka. Names of present BJP state president CR Paatil, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel and Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya are in the reckoning for the post of the new Chief Minister. Other names doing the rounds in BJP and RSS circles are those of Vice President Gujarat State BJP Gordhan Zadafia and Union Cabinet Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry Parshottam Rupala.
Rupani had turned 65 last month and 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.
BJP senior leader and Gujarat in-charge Bhupender Yadav and party’s general secretary (Organisation) BL Santhosh had led a detailed review of the party situation over the last few months, it is believed. Rupani was also not seen as a leader with a mass voter base and Patidar vote is seen as a big factor going ahead.
The BJP under Rupani is also said to have been facing the heat over the management of the Covid situation and the party was sensing some anger in the urban areas. CR Paatil was made the state BJP president last year to rejuvenate the party in the state and is seen as extremely close to the Prime Minister, who has even managed Varanasi for the Modi. “There is anti-incumbency but under a new leader, we will be able to set right the situation in 15 months," a BJP source said.
Incidentally, Rupani was also chosen as the CM in similar fashion 15 months before the 2017 assembly elections in the state, replacing Anandiben Patel.
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