Vijay Rupani, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, became the fourth BJP leader in six months to resign as Chief Minister of a party-ruled state.
Mr Rupani stands down a year before elections in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, which the BJP sees as a crucial prestige struggle as it seeks a seventh consecutive term in office.His departure comes on the heels of BS Yediyurappa’s in Karnataka in July and a double whammy in Uttarakhand, where Tirath Singh Rawat resigned just four months after succeeding Trivendra Rawat.
Next year, both Gujarat and Uttarakhand will elect new administrations. BS Yediyurappa resigned as a result of hostility toward him and his son, as well as continuous calls for his removal from the party’s state unit. In Uttarakhand, the party was compelled to dismiss Trivendra Rawat due to similar internal resistance. Tirath Singh Rawat, his successor, was also not a suitable option. Tirath Rawat’s brief tenure was fraught with controversy. The BJP’s Uttarakhand leaders had protested to the Delhi leadership about popular outrage over some of his statements, including perplexing claims about the United States, rather than Britain, governing India for 200 years.
A similar situation was averted earlier this year in Uttar Pradesh, when Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath faced internal criticism for his inaccessibility to MPs and MLAs, as well as his government’s handling of the Covid epidemic. A nervous BJP dispatched senior officials BL Santosh and Radha Mohan Singh to gather input and conduct a review, after which the party underlined that it was not aiming to replace Adityanath, one of the BJP’s most visible and popular faces, but would adjust the leadership structure. In addition, like Gujarat and Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh will hold elections in 2022.
The populous state is often seen as a predictor of how the 2024 Lok Sabha election would unfold, making it another another prestige struggle for the BJP, which won 62 of the 80 seats in 2019.
Earlier, Mr Rupani was cited as saying he was resigning “to further develop the state with new vigour and power.” He also expressed gratitude to the Prime Minister for his counsel. Mr Rupani’s departure (and, by extension, that of his government) presents the ruling BJP with three options: select a replacement (and a new cabinet), allow the state to go under President’s Rule, or hold the election considerably sooner than planned.
According to sources, no decision on early elections has been made at this time, and a change of guard – a new Chief Minister – is likely to be the plan. Mansukh Mandaviya, who was sworn in as Union Health Minister in July, and Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel are also likely successors, according to sources. Another option, according to reports, is Dadra and Nagar Haveli Administrator Praful Khoda Patel and Lakshadweep Administrator Praful Khoda Patel. According to reports, Mr Rupani resigned after the party’s central leadership voiced unhappiness with his performance; this has been described as a “course correction” by a BJP keen to alter things up if it feels dubious about its state leadership.