In a much anticipated but sudden move Vijay Rupani resigned on September 11. He resigned just hours before he attended the (virtual) function with Modi, ironically the function was a Patidar event.
Janvi Sonaiya spoke to Deepal Trivedi to find out about the latest on Gujarat Politics.
Why do you think Rupani resigned?
Rupani didn’t resign, he was asked to as he had failed in the “public trust quotient”. The BJP considers Gujarat 2022 elections as crucial and the party high command didn’t consider Rupani as the right face. Removing him could be a precursor to what can be expected in other states too.
Three mistakes of Rupani’s political career
The first one was definitely Rupani’s Covid mismanagement in Gujarat. The dearth of hospital beds, 108 ambulances, unavailability of Covid drugs etc has pinned the public. Rupani was criticised for his inability to manage the crisis situation. The second is perception management. That’s another segment where Rupani failed. While Modi is an expert at winning people and building a rapport with the public; Rupani didn’t match up to the public perception. Third, his sour relationship with Gujarat state BJP president CR Paatil.
Do you see BJP losing its hold on Gujarat?
Absolutely not. Unlike the popular belief that BJP’s hold is shaking in Gujarat; I think it is not. BJP has had deep roots in Gujarat since 90s. When former CM late Keshubhai Patel was the face of Gujarat he had won by a majority, as a CM even Modi couldn’t win the seats Keshubhai did. But when Keshubhai left BJP and launched his own political party, he didn’t muster public support. Gujaratis are loyal to BJP and Modi, but in the absence of Modi any face or person would not matter.
Patidars resentment with BJP
Patidar’s resentment with BJP is not new. Since 2015 when Anandiben, who herself was a Patidar, was being replaced by Rupani the Patidar were resentful. Patidar agitation, a movement spearheaded by Hardik Patel dented the popularity of BJP in Gujarat. Gujarat is 15-months away from its scheduled elections that is Dec 2022 and there are no signs of Patidar resentment ebbing down. I wouldn’t blame Rupani whoever would have been the Gujarat CM would have to face Patidar’s wrath.
Patidar CM for Gujarat?
PM Modi is known to throw surprises when Rupani was picked up no one had predicted it. Will Gujarat get a Patidar CM or will Modi make Gujarat a model for some other socio-political reform; we do not know. If BJP wants to get all Patidar attention it is important for them to pick up a Patidar as the Gujarat CM.
Surat, Rajkot and some parts of Saurashtra that have sizable Patidars population backed AAP as the party put up an impressive show. To drive away Patel from AAP and win their confidence, BJP might put forth a Patidar CM. Nitin Patel is the prospective name that strikes first in the list of Patidar CM. It can also be Cabinet minister Mansukh Mandaviya. I believe there will be a deputy CM or two deputy CMs representing OBCs and tribals. But we trust in Modi and his ability to throw surprises.
When it comes to the other two parties, Congress is defunct in Gujarat, AAP is putting in a lot of raw energy but they lack maturity and experience and the strategic tactics to win over people in the state.