The big Q in Gujarat: Will no-repeat cabinet work or boomerang for BJP?

| Updated: September 17, 2021 12:36 am

As of now, the Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel and his 24 member cabinet is giving me a very start-up-like feeling. (Over) enthusiasm, full-on energy, commitment, confidence. But with doses of confusion, frustration and lack of clarity.For the record, I need to clarify that there is no existing politician who lives, breathes and politics. Which is the last movie he has seen? Which is the last vacation he took? Which is the last book he read? Nobody knows. But everyone knows that Prime Minister Narendra Modi inhales and exhales politics.

For all those who think that the no-repeat theory is an impulsive idea, the answer is no. This is a much thought about, calculated, arithmetically analysed strategy of PM Modi. It is believed that he took “sense” as it is politically used, from Home Minister Amitbhai Shah, Gujarat State President C R Paatil and probably the UP Governor Anandiben Patel. I am not sure about the last name.PM Modi has achieved three things with this.

  1. He has boosted up the morale of Gujarat BJP giving a message that you don’t have to be experienced, connected or rich to become a Minister. If you are committed to your constituency, you can get the position.
  2. Another very important national message that PM  Modi has conveyed is that nobody is indispensable in the BJP. That includes Chief Ministers. If a Chief Minister of their Model State, Gujarat can be sacked, so can be anyone else. This is an unprecedented move that not only the Chief Minister but his entire cabinet has been sacked. All BJP leaders, especially Chief Ministers of BJP ruled States need to digest this bitter pill.
  3. PM Modi believes in raw energy. This has energised the nation with the maximum number of young people below 25 in the world living in India. Experience can be a burden. Inexperience coupled with hard work, performance and loyalty can be an asset.
  4. The BJP for the first time, through this sacking of CM Vijay Rupani and his entire Cabinet proved that the BJP was indeed facing intense public perception issues and the influential Patel(Patidar) community is indeed very displeased with BJP. This can be testified by the fact that though the majority of the population in Gujarat is that of OBCs, the majority of ministerial berths in Gujarat has been given to Patels. That too Patels from the epicentre of Patidar agitation. That is South Gujarat and Saurashtra. Patels are 12.8 percent of the population of Gujarat. This means the BJP, scared of losing Patel support, has given the community three times more representation to keep them in its fold.
  5. The BJP with this exercise has proven that they take AAP really seriously. Surat is the headquarter of major AAP activities. Surat showcased the most impressive Aam Aadmi Party entry in the Municipal Corporation. More and more youngsters across castes but mainly Patels are joining AAP with hope for a better Gujarat. So, Isudan Gadhvi and Gopal Italia of AAP are not wrong when they say the sacking of CM Rupani and his cabinet is their personal victory. Hardik Patel, the dynamic leader of the nearly defunct Congress in Gujarat has said that this is the last BJP chief minister of Gujarat. Let BJP and Bhupendra Patel enjoy the last 15 months of their tenure.

Is this strategic but risky no-repeat theory going to help the BJP in Gujarat is the question clouding everyone especially after debut Ahmedabad MLA Bhupendra Patel was picked up, not selected, for the position.

Gujarat Government does not have any connection with Kerala except for the fact that PM Modi’s eyes and ears is a retired bureaucrat , K Kailasnathan who is a Malayalee with origins in Kerala. Kerala is no model for Gujarat but what has happened in Gujarat is very similar to what Pinarayi Vijayan did in Kerala about four months ago. After a historic win, he changed his entire cabinet. Sources said PM Modi reportedly had intelligence reports to suggest that this strategy was working well, despite the fact that several experienced ministers had been dropped. Gujarat is known as a laboratory for all BJP experiments so PM Modi reportedly put his No Repeat Theory in practice. He went ahead of Pinarayi Vijayan in two ways. One, PM Modi replaced the Chief Minister also and secondly, he did not emulate the Kerala Chief Minister’s ill vision of promoting family and dynasty.

The entire council of ministers and Speaker, including the chief minister, make up a 26-member team. Out of these #Special26, only three, Raghavji Patel, Kiritsinh Rana and Rajendra Trivedi, have prior ministerial experience. At least nearly a dozen MLAs are first-time MLAs — like Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel himself.

Hardik Patel of Congress said the new Bhupendra Patel ministry is a great opportunity for Congress to get its act together n Gujarat. But it is a mystery why Gujarat Congress took a “unanimous stand” that they would not react to the situation.“Whatever the BJP arithmetic is, this is the last BJP government in Gujarat,” declared Hardik Patel.

However, 2022 Assembly elections are going to be the first time that Gujarat will be witnessing a genuinely three-pronged battle. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) believes that dropping Rupani and anointing Bhupendra Patel itself is a victory for them. Congress can put up a good fight with their experience and network provided factionalism does not further eat them away.

But then to sum it up, a very start-up quote comes to mind. Ideas are commodities, implementation is difficult and success is uncertain. The same stands true for the BJP in Gujarat.

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