Anandiben Patel’s resignation has armed Congress party vice president Rahul Gandhi with one more issue to take on the ruling camp, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A day after Gujarat CM decided to hang her boots, Rahul Gandhi termed her a mere “scapegoat” and instead blamed Modi and his 13 years rule as the Chief Minister of Gujarat.
“13 years of Modi rule, not 2 years of Anandiben are responsible for Gujarat burning. Sacrificing the scapegoat won’t save the BJP,” Gandhi said on his official Twitter handle.
Asking the top BJP leadership to relieve her from the responsibility, Ms Patel on Monday sought for a fresh face as she soon will be turning 75, her party’s undeclared cut-off age. Significantly, 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.
Criticising BJP further, Gandhi’s Congress party termed Patel’s resignation as “overdue” and accused the BJP leadership of trying to protect her in spite of “growing unrest” against the state government.
“Anandiben Patel’s resignation was long overdue. The BJP leadership tried to protect her for several months in spite of growing unrest among the Dalits for the atrocities, the brutal manner of handling against the Patidar community and also the massive corruption,” senior Congress leader Gurudas Kamat said soon after Patel posted her resignation decision on the social networking site.
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.
Announcing her decision, Ms Patel had 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, BJP chief Amit Shah said her letter of resignation will be placed before the BJP Parliamentary Board on Tuesday which will take the final decision.
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 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.