Even as the State Executive meeting in August-end reposed faith in Vijay Rupani’s leadership, indicating the party might return to its Hindutva core, the latest indication in a series of developments emerged from here.
Among others, State BJP chief CR Paatil was appointed on a committee of advisers to the Chief Minister. He was earlier in a similar committee headed by Revenue Minister Kaushik Patel. It is public knowledge Rupani and the state BJP president have not been on the best of relations ever since Paatil was brought in in July 2020.
This came to the fore most recently during the peak of the second Covid-19 wave after Paatil announced that some 5,000 Remdesivir injections would be distributed from the BJP office in Surat when the Rupani Government was itself scrounging for every vial. To a question about this, the Chief Minister had shouted at the media, “Go and ask him.”
Soon after he took over, Paatil issued instructions to all Cabinet ministers that they would sit twice a week at the State BJP headquarters to listen to the grievances of the MLAs as well as the MPs. This followed continuous complaints from the elected representatives that the bureaucracy was giving them a short shrift and the political leadership could not rein in the officials.
Sources believe the Gujarat Government’s inept handling of the Covid-19 crisis, especially during the second fierce wave for which even the Gujarat High Court had time and again pulled up the dispensation, proved the last straw in the camel’s back.
Rupani is the second BJP chief minister in Gujarat after Anandiben Patel, who could not complete his full term. Like Patel had only one year to go before the 2017 poll when she stepped down in 2016, Rupani also had a year left ahead of the 2022 poll.
Although Rupani and Nitin Patel celebrated 5 years in office last month, it was their individual 5 years. He became the CM in 2017.
Incidentally, the Chief Minister put in his papers hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually inaugurated the Rs200 crore Sardardham Complex set up by the Patidar or Patel community in Ahmedabad.
The day of swift developments began with BJP national general secretary BL Santhosh landing in Ahmedabad in the morning to drive straight to the party headquarters Shri Kamalam near Gandhinagar.
Even as he was closetted in a meeting with Gujarat BJP President CR Paatil and newly-appointed state general secretary (Organisation) Ratnakar, CM Vijay Rupani and his deputy Nitin Patel drove down to the Raj Bhavan. Rupani was accompanied by all his Cabinet ministers. They were joined by Union Minister Mansukh Mandaviya and Parshottam Rupala, both Patidars, at the Raj Bhavan.
In a press conference after putting in his papers, the CM said he had himself decided to resign as a “loyal soldier.” Asked for the reason for his quitting with the election a year away, he put up a brave face, “In the BJP, individuals don’t matter and it is a collective that works in cohesion.”
When reminded the party had announced during its recent State Executive Committee meeting in Kevadiya the election would be fought under his leadership, he said, “The elections are and will be fought under the strong leadership of PM Modi.”