Anandiben quits as Gujarat CM
Through a Facebook post on Tuesday, Patel expressed her desire to step down saying, “Senior BJP leaders initiated a great tradition of voluntary retirement after they turn 75, which also paves way for next generation. I’m also turning 75 this November. This will also give the new leadership time to prepare for the Vibrant Gujarat Summit in January 2017.”
Reacting to her resignation, BJP president Amit Shah said, “Anandiben Patel has worked efficiently as first woman CM of Gujarat, carried forward PM Modi’s Vikas Yatra to new heights. She feels that new CM should be given adequate time for the Vibrant Gujarat summit to be held in January. Will place Anandiben Patel’s letter before the party’s Parliamentary Board which will take a decision on this.”
The Parliamentary Board of the party is scheduled to meet on Tuesday and take a call on her successor. Speculations over her successor have already started. Gujarat Health Minister Nitin Patel and BJP state president Vijay Rupani are said to be front runners.
After facing a nationwide backlash for “mishandling” of sensitive Dalit issue in Gujarat, the Bharatiya Janata Party top brass looked for an opportunity to replace the incumbent chief minister. Anandiben Patel, who took over from Narendra Modi after he became Prime Minister, on Monday offered to resign after extensive protests by the Dalit community on Sunday as well as by the Patidar community in the recent past.
The state has been witnessing extensive Dalit protests after four Dalit youths were brutally beaten for skinning a dead cow. Another Dalit youth committed suicide on Sunday after consuming poison to protest the Una beatings. At least 18 Dalit youth have attempted suicide in the state following the attacks. Moreover, the Patidar leaders have vowed to continue their struggle to obtain OBC status for the Patel community. Hardik Patel, leader of the Patidar movement was released on July 15.
The opposition Congress too raked up the issue on the floor of Gujarat house. Aam Aadmi Party supremo Arvind Kejriwal has also been campaigning in Gujarat, claiming dissatisfaction with the government and the impotence of the Congress as the main opposition party. He tweeted on Monday evening that Anandiben was exiting to prevent an embarrassing defeat by his party in the election.
BJP is facing an embarrassing situation in both poll bound states of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab as well as in its home turf of Gujarat on account of the Dalit protests. For the party, Dalits and Patidars are important vote-banks, and both appear disgruntled.
Reportedly, the strategy for exit of Patel as CM was crafted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and BJP National President Amit Shah to retain their home state in the upcoming assembly election. The BJP has been in power in the state since 1998. A report submitted by Om Prakash Mathur, who was former BJP state in charge of Gujarat in the month of May allegedly blamed Anandiben for the party’s downturn.