In a surprise development on Saturday, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani resigned from his post along with his entire cabinet, nearly 15 months ahead of the Assembly polls.
Amid speculation over who will succeed Vijay Rupani, names of Gujarat Deputy CM Nitin Patel, state agriculture minister R C Faldu and Union ministers Purshottam Rupala and Mansukh Mandaviya are doing the rounds.
Rupani resigned as CM on Saturday, over a year ahead of Assembly elections in the state, without assigning any specific reason.
“Names of Patel, Faldu, Rupala and Mandaviya are being discussed. But it is impossible to say who will be the chief minister as the decision will be taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” a party leader said.
When Anandiben Patel resigned as chief minister in August 2016, there was talk that Patel would succeed her, but in a last-minute decision, Rupani was chosen for the top post. The demand to make Nitin Patel chief minister began to trend on social media after Rupani’s resignation.
Union health minister Mandaviya, who like Patel belongs to the influential Patidar community, is also considered a front-runner. Leaders of the community had demanded recently that the next chief minister should be a Patidar. State BJP president C R Paatil, who originally hails from Maharashtra, is unlikely to be considered for the CMs post, sources said.
Incidentally, Rupani is the second BJP chief minister to call it quits recently. In a swift move, the BJP replaced BS Yediyurappa with Basavaraj Bommai in Karnataka.
“I was allowed to serve the state for five years. I have contributed to the development of the state. I will further do whatever is asked by my party. In BJP, there has been a tradition that responsibilities of party workers change from time to time. I will be ready to take whatever responsibility that the party will give me in the future. I thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi for giving a common worker like me this opportunity to serve the people of the state as chief minister,” Rupani said, after submitting his resignation.
An NDTV report indicated that Mandaviya, who is a Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat, has reached Rupani’s residence. It quoted sources as saying that Rupani’s resignation was a “course correction” by the BJP that saw resentment brewing against the state leadership.
Asked about reasons for his resignation, Rupani said, “In BJP, it is like a relay race for party workers. One gives the baton to the other.”
On who will be the next chief minister, Rupani said that the party will decide about it.
He denied that he had any differences with state BJP president C R Paatil. Rupani comes from the Jain community which has around two per cent population in the state. There is speculation that his successor may be from the Patidar community.
Rupani first became the chief minister on August 7, 2016, following the resignation of incumbent Anandiben Patel, and continued in the office after the BJPs victory in the 2017 Assembly elections. Rupani, who completed five years in office on August 7 this year, was present at the inauguration on Saturday of Sardardham Bhavan where Modi was present virtually.
Elections are scheduled in December 2022 to elect 182 members of the Gujarat Assembly.