In an unprecedented move, Gujrat CM Vijay Rupani, who is an MLA from Rajkot West, has resigned from his CM post. Ever since his resignation was publicly declared, a series of assumptions and speculations behind his removal has started clouding the political skies.
The move isn’t entirely unpredictable — in May 2020, Gujrati news Portal Face of Nation’s editor Dhaval Patel predicted the Rupani’s exit but was charged with sedition soon after. Things had panned out ugly for Patel as he had to submit an unconditional apology to quash the FIR against him and leave the country later.
The reasons splashed by BJP workers and leaders for Rupani’s resignation, if anything, are vague to a larger extent. The primary reason coming from the party is the upcoming Gujrat Assembly elections. The party has tagged Rupani as an incumbent leader who is incapable of leading the party to victory in the elections and upholding the ambitious commitment to score a sweeping victory by winning all 182 seats. The soft-spoken image of Rupani, veiled by his humble nature, has made the headlines in past.
Rupani’s resignation over the accusation of his soft image now demands a more charismatic CM to replace him. The BJP has never failed to surprise the masses and in the same line of action, the party’s high command has introduced Bhupendra Patel, a first-time MLA from Ghatlodia, as Gujrat’s new CM.
Bhupendra is believed to be a new player in politics with no potential record of a substantial political stature. But striking is the fact that Bhupendra hails from the same constituency as Anandiben Patel and is considered her protégé.
The mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic stands tall as another reason that heavily rests upon Rupani’s exit. Gujarat faced an acute shortage of beds, oxygen, medicines, etc. to treat Covid patients in the state. Moreover, reports of injections being sold in black also came forward in addition to the Gujarat government supplying 25,000 vials of antiviral Remdesvir to the Uttar Pradesh government at the peak of the second covid wave in April this year.
Speaking of Covid mismanagement, Uttar Pradesh was the state that made the highest number of headlines for mismanagement with respect to shortage of oxygen, beds, Covid medication as well as illegal disposal of dead bodies.
River Ganga was swollen with dead bodies near its banks in UP’s Prayagaraj. All the signs pointed that the bodies floating on the river surface as well as those found buried in the shallow spaces of banks were due to deaths during the second wave of Covid-19. The UP government went ahead and denied any accountability of the bodies; it also denied considering the cause of the death of these bodies as Covid-19. The drastic Covid mismanagement made headlines internationally, so it is no news that the leadership shuffle was expected in not just Gujarat but also UP, if at all Covid mismanagement is the real cause of Rupani’s resignation.
The BJP is not only known for its internal anarchy but also for its risk-taking abilities in taking extreme steps to turn polls in their favour. One such example is Rajasthan’s election where the State’s now ex-CM Vasundra Raje, who was transferred from Madhya Pradesh to Rajasthan with close to no political power in the state, landed poll victory as a gift wrapped in BJP’s hands with the rigorous campaign, despite the fact that the state had never elected a female CM before this.
A similar risk has been taken by the party in Assam and Uttrakhand in the past, and is being taken now in Gujarat.
Rupani comes from the Patidar community, which has long accused the party of underrepresentation in the party despite their geographical and political dominance in the state. Bhupendra Patel, hailing from the camp of ex-CM Anandiben Patel, needs to act with wit to unveil a political strategy that has the potential to lead the BJP in Gujarat’s Assembly elections in 2022.