New Delhi: Vijay Rupani resigned as Chief Minister of Gujarat on Saturday in an unexpected turn of events ahead of an Assembly election in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state later 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 (and, by default, that of his cabinet) leaves the ruling BJP with three options – appoint a successor (and new cabinet), allow the state to come under President’s Rule or have the 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, sworn in as the Union Health Minister in July, and Nitin Patel, who was Mr Rupani’s deputy, are possible replacements. Reports indicate Mr Mandaviya, who was born in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar and is a Rajya Sabha MP from the state, is at Mr Rupani’s residence.
Mr Rupani resigned, sources further said, after the party’s central leadership expressed dissatisfaction with his performance; they have called this a “course correction” by a party eager to change things around if it feels unsure in its state leadership, particularly with key elections due next year.The strategy, it seems, is simple – ‘if there is resentment against state leadership, sort it out now’. There are recent examples – Karnataka and Uttarakhand – which make Mr Rupani the fourth BJP chief minister to quit his post in the last six months.