BJP rebuffed the speculations of party chief Amit Shah headed to take over as the Chief Minister of Gujarat post Anandiben Patel’s resignation this week. Instead the party leaders announced that the BJP “needs” him more at the national level. Shah, who took over as the president of the BJP soon after it came to power in May 2014, is busy sharpening BJP machinery for the assembly polls in five states next year, including that of all-crucial Uttar Pradesh.
“Party needs his leadership at the national level as he has taken it to great heights’ and led it to many successes,” senior leader and Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu said.
Accepting Anandiben’s resignation on Wednesday, the BJP Parliamentary Board authorised Shah to pick the Chief Ministerial nominee in the legislature party meeting likely to be held later this week.
“She had wished to be relieved of her responsibility as she would turn 75 soon. She has set up a great precedent for lakhs of party workers. It put on record her very good work as the chief minister and as a minister earlier,” Naidu added briefing the press about party’s top meet.
The BJP Parliamentary Board has also appointed Union Road and Highway minister Nitin Gadkari and party general secretary Saroj Pandey as central observers for the legislature party meeting in which the new leader will be formally elected.
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, announced her decision to hang boots on Monday.
While Ms Patel cited her age — BJP’s undeclared cut-off mark — as the reason behind her decision, her resignation decision has come at a time when the ruling party is faced with heat over the Dalit unrest and Patidar agitation in its stronghold for years.
“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 had said announcing her decision to quit.
Patidar agitation had led to a large scale protest last year resulting in over 10 persons killed in the clashes with state police. And the recent 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 has been holding 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. Minister Nitin Patel and state BJP chief Vijay Rupani are tipped to be Anandiben Patel’s successors.