Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel has offered to resign. Asking the top BJP leadership to relieve her from the responsibility, Ms Patel sought for a fresh face as she soon will be turning 75, her party’s undeclared cut-off age. Significantly, her resignation has come at a time when the ruling BJP is facing heat over the Dalit unrest and Patidar agitation in its stronghold for years.
Announcing on a televised address, she said “for the last some time there has been a tradition in the party that those who attain the age of 75, voluntarily retires from the post. I will attain the age of 75 in November”.
“I am asking the party to relieve me two months in advance as the new chief minister will require the time to work, when the state is going to face elections in 2017 and an important event like Vibrant Gujarat Summit to be held in January,” she added.
Reacting to the press as the news of her resignation trickled in, BJP chief Amit Shah said that he has received Anandiben Patel’s letter of resignation and it will be placed before the BJP Parliamentary Board which will take the final decision.
Shah also indicated replacement for Patel so that new CM has time to prepare for the Vibrant Gujarat summit due to be held January next year.
With state elections due to be held next year in December, the BJP is looking for a fix of its problems compounded first by the Patidar sub-community agitation seeking reservation and now the issue of flogging Dalit men in Una district.
Patidar agitation had led to a large scale protest last year resulting in over 10 persons killed in the clashes with state police.
And now the incident of public flogging of Dalit youth by the cow vigilante group in Una last month had given way to a massive Dalit community unrest. Seeking dignity, empowerment and justice, the community had declared a series of protest over the issue.
With the state machinery put to test over these two big events in the last one year, voices were slowly emerging against Anandiben within the BJP – ruling both state and the centre.
Anandiben Patel, who will turn 75 in November, took over as the Chief Minister of Gujarat in May 2014 from the then-CM Narendra Modi.
The formidable BJP faced a big shock late last year with Congress party making substantial comeback in Gujarat politics after gaining a major ground in the civic polls, especially in the rural areas.
Lifted by their success in the state long ruled by the BJP at all tiers, the Congress party had termed its performance as “verdict against BJP government”, while many had termed it alarm bells for the BJP over the dent in its Patel community votebank.
And now it appears that even Dalits are angry with the BJP state government, which till Monday evening was ruled by Anandiben Patel.