Vijay Rupani resigned as Chief Minister of Gujarat on Saturday ahead of elections in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state late next year.
“… has been a five-year journey for development of Gujarat… under guidance of PM Modi. Now, to further develop the state, with new energy and power, I have decided to resign as Chief Minister,” Mr Rupani was quoted by news agency ANI.
“It is well known the BJP, as a party, keeps changing as per requirements… it is a speciality of our party that every worker delivers to the fullest, and I too will continue to work for the party with the same energy,” he added.
Mr Rupani’s resignation was followed by that of his cabinet in a stunning twist that leaves the ruling BJP with three options – appoint a successor (and new cabinet), allow the state to come under President’s Rule or have an Assembly election much earlier than scheduled.
Sources have said at this point no decision has been taken on early polls and a change of guard – a new Chief Minister – is likely to be the strategy.
Sources also said Mansukh Mandaviya, who was just sworn in as the Union Health Minister in July, and Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel are possible replacements.
Some reports have indicated Mr Mandaviya, who was born in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar and is a Rajya Sabha MP from the state, has already reached Mr Rupani’s residence.
Mr Rupani resigned, sources further said, after the party’s central leadership expressed dissatisfaction with his performance; sources have called this a “course correction” by a BJP eager to change things around if it feels unsure in its state leadership.
The strategy, it seems, is simple – ‘if there is resentment against state leadership, sort it out now’. There are recent examples – Karnataka and Uttarakhand.
In July BS Yediyurappa resigned as Karnataka Chief Minister following resentment against him and his son, and unrelenting calls for his removal by a section of the party’s state unit.
Before that there was the double whammy in Uttarakhand, where Tirath Singh Rawat quit barely four months after replacing Trivendra Rawat.
The Uttarakhand example is particularly interesting because, like Gujarat, the state will hold elections next year. Trivendra Rawat and Tirath Singh Rawat were both replaced with around six months to polls, underlining the BJP’s willingness to take big decisions to retain power.
Principal opposition parties, including the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party, have yet to respond. However, independent MLA Jignesh Mevani has.
Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani resigns: People of Gujarat would have appreciated had Mr. Rupani resigned for his monumental mismanagement of Covid crisis. This resignation comes purely to take care of electoral arithmetic keeping 2022 assembly polls in mind,” he tweeted.
Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani resigns:
People of Gujarat would have appreciated had Mr. Rupani resigned for his monumental mismanagement of Covid crisis.
This resignation comes purely to
take care of electoral arithmetic keeping 2022 assembly polls in mind.
— Jignesh Mevani (@jigneshmevani80) September 11, 2021
Mr Rupani, 65, was sworn in for a second term in December 2017 in front of Prime Minister Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and over a dozen other BJP chief ministers.
In the 2017 election the BJP claimed 99 of the state’s 182 Assembly seats – down 17 from 2012. The Congress won 77 seats – up 16 from the last polls.
With input from ANI