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.