Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel has resigned, ending months of speculation over the issue. Announcing her resignation on social media on Monday , she gave age has the reason for relinquishing the post. Patel will turn 75 in November. BJP Gujarat president Vijay Rupani could be the next CM, although the name of Parshottam Rupala, minister of state for agriculture in the Modi government, is also doing rounds.
In a Facebook post, Gujarat's first woman chief minister said that she sought to be relieved of the chief ministership two months before November, when she turns 75, to give sufficient time for her successor to prepare for `Vibrant Gujarat 2017', due in January 2017, and the state assembly elections by the end of 2017.
For several months, there have speculations on the possible removal of Patel but her unseating proved to be the unrest in Gujarat that started with the Patidar agitation last year. Later, the Thakore community and now the Dalit community too have been on an agitation, much to the discomfort of the BJP nationally .
BJP vice-president Om Mathur had visited Gujarat in April and met several MLAs, MPs and workers. It is understood that Mathur had conveyed to the BJP leadership that a change of guard was necessary if BJP had to win the next assembly elections. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh too had given a three-month deadline to set the house in order after the BJP debacle in the local body elections. The Dalit agitation following the beating up of community members in Una made her exit imminent.
However, sources close to the CM claimed that neither the Patel agitation nor the Dalit protests were the reasons that compelled her to leave, adds Vasudha Venugopal from New Delhi. “ As far as the Dalit protests are concerned, the arrests were made on time,“ the source said. A top source added the decision to resign was not under pressure from the Central leadership but “in consultation“ with them.“She is one person who knows when to leave, and that is what she did.“ The CM had several times in private meetings with aides expressed a desire to resign, a source said. “The main reason was she didn't want the Centre to be accused of being lenient with her on the age criterion. The PM has made it clear that those above 75 should pave way for younger people,“ the source said. “She is a disciplined soldier of the party who always puts the party's interest first. With the elections coming, she felt a new face would give more push to the party ,“ the source said.
In March, the CM had said in New Delhi: “I can't go on like this in my 80s.I feel others should be given a chance, young people should come and take responsibility .“ Senior BJP leaders said Anandiben was someone the PM held in great regard. This is the reason, many feel, she may be given another post soon, like that of a governor .