The Gujarat BJP legislature party is likely to meet on Sunday to choose the new chief minister following Vijay Rupani’s resignation, a party leader said. Union Minister Amit Shah may join the legislature party meeting along with central observers, said state BJP spokesperson Yamal Vyas. In a sudden development, chief minister Rupani resigned on Saturday, over a year before the assembly elections. Vyas was speaking to reporters after a meeting of senior leaders including national general secretary BL Santhosh and Union minister Bhupender Yadav at the party headquarters ‘Kamalam’ in Ahmedabad.
“The BJP legislature party is likely to meet on Sunday, but we will be able to confirm this once the central parliamentary board conveys the exact time of the meeting to us. All BJP MLAs will attend the meeting along with central observers,” Vyas said.
The name of the new chief minister will be decided in the meeting, he added.
Santhosh and Bhupender Yadav met senior Gujarat BJP leaders including state unit chief CR Paatil, deputy chief minister Nitin Patel, ministers Bhupendrasinh Chudasama and Pradipsinh Jadeja, state BJP general secretaries Pradipsinh Vaghela and Rajubhai Patel, and party’s chief whip in the Assembly Pankaj Desai.
Rupani did a lot of development work as chief minister and took Gujarat to new heights, Vyas said.
“It is a common process in the BJP. He will be given a new responsibility. He was earlier state president, then became chief minister, and now he will take up a new responsibility,” the spokesperson added.
What Vijay Rupani mentioned in his resignation
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Saturday resigned from the post, his sudden announcement coming over a year before the state goes to polls. It is not clear what prompted the development in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state where elections to the 182-member Assembly are due in December 2022.
Rupani (65), the fourth chief minister to demit office in BJP-ruled states during the coronavirus pandemic, was sworn in as chief minister – his second stint as CM – in December 2017.
BJP’s general secretary (organisation) BL Santosh and Gujarat state unit in-charge Bhupender Yadav met party functionaries soon after Rupani announced his resignation.
Party sources said the issue of Rupani’s successor will be discussed in the legislature party meeting likely to be held on Sunday.
“I have resigned as chief minister of Gujarat,” Rupani told reporters after meeting Governor Acharya Devvrat and submitting his resignation letter.
“I was allowed to serve the state for five years. I have contributed to the development of the state. I will further do whatever is asked by my party,” Rupani said.
“In BJP, there has been a tradition that responsibilities of party workers change from time to time. I will be ready to take whatever responsibility that the party will give me in the future,” Rupani said.
“I thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi for giving a common worker like me this opportunity to serve the people of the state as chief minister,” Rupani said.
Rupani and state cabinet colleagues met the governor and submitted their resignations.
Asked about reasons for his resignation, Rupani said, “In BJP, it is like a relay race for party workers. One gives the baton to the other.”
So who will be the next Gujarat CM?
On who will be the next chief minister, Rupani said that the party will decide about it. He denied that he had any differences with state BJP president CR Paatil.
Rupani comes from the Jain community which has around two per cent population in the state. There is speculation that his successor may be from the patidar community.
He first became the chief minister on August 7, 2016, following the resignation of incumbent Anandiben Patel, and continued in the office after the BJP’s victory in the 2017 Assembly elections.
Rupani, who completed five years in office on August 7 this year, was present at the inauguration on Saturday of Sardardham Bhavan where Modi was present virtually.
Rupani is the fifth BJP chief minister leaving office since the pandemic began.
The saffron party had also replaced Lingayat stalwart BS Yediyurappa as Karnataka CM with another Lingayat leader Basavaraj S Bommai.
In Uttarakhand, it replaced two Thakur chief ministers with another Thakur leader, and speculation was rife that Rupani, who comes from a numerically insignificant Jain community, may make way for a Patidar, the largest community in the western state.
Assam also saw the BJP replacing its chief minister of five years Sarbananda Sonowal with Himanta Biswa Sarma following the assembly elections earlier this year.
However, this was considered more a case of the party rewarding Sarma than it taking any dim view of his predecessor, who was later made a Cabinet minister in the Modi government.