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Why Vijay Rupani was asked to resign as Gujarat chief minister

| Updated: September 12, 2021 06:46

Vijay Rupani is a lucky man to have completed his five-year term as Gujarat chief minister because considering his record, he did not deserve to continue in the position. Maybe his exit as chief minister of Gujarat, the BJP’s model state, is a message the high command is sending to some other powerful chief ministers of party-ruled states — that in the BJP the party matters more than the individual.

Of course, the party was “compassionate” enough to let Rupani complete his weeklong celebration of five years in power about four weeks back, where he showcased the vikas done under his leadership.

Vibes of India reveals the five reasons that cost Vijay Rupani the chief ministers’s chair.

They were:

  • Patel angst
  • Covid mismanagement
  • Failure in public perception management
  • Friction with Gujarat BJP chief C R Paatil.
  • High command wanting to establish that if CM of the party’s model state of Gujarat can be replaced, any other CM could also face the same fate.

Patidar angst

Patidar angst has not subsided in Gujarat ever since the Patidars started their agitation demanding reservation in government jobs in 2014, soon after Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister. Gujarat saw violence in August 2014 after 12 years. More than 14 people lost their lives in the Patidar agitation and over 230 people including 203 police personnel sustained injuries. This was the first major violence in Gujarat after 2002.

The bloody agitation spread like wildfire and ultimately resulted in the chief minister Anandiben Patel losing her job in 2016. It was then speculated that Nitin Patel, her senior-most cabinet minister, would be made the chief minister but Anandiben could not have her way. Amit Shah appointed his man Vijay Rupani, a completely unexpected choice, as the CM.

This hurt Patel sentiments — Vijay Rupani is a Jain, not a Patel — and whispers began that it was a mistake to get Anandiben replaced. This sentiment intensified after Rupani did not do anything substantial for the Patel community in Gujarat. Nitin Patel as his deputy chief minister, however, has never questioned his party why he was dropped in the last minute in 2016 after he had already distributed sweets and was in celebration mode.

On August 11, 2021, the Lok Sabha passed the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2021 paving the way for states and Union Territories to prepare their own Other Backward Classes (OBC) list. Prime Minister Modi is being widely credited for this historic legislation to uplift the OBC communities across the nation.

As an aside, the allegation doing the rounds, that Modi himself included his caste in the OBC list, is untrue. Modi’s community — Modi Ghanchi (oil pressers), earlier classified as Vaishya/Bania —  was included in the OBC category was during the Congress government in 1994.

Now the Patidars in Gujarat are demanding exactly this — that they may be included in OBC category. Chaudhry Patels, also known as Aanjanias, were included in OBC category in the early ’90s which saw them getting more representation in government services. This angered those left out, who mostly belong to Saurashtra, central and south Gujarat.

Patels have several sub-sects but Leuva and Kadva are the most prominent. The Patidars, who were classified as Patels for the first time by the British in 1931, believe that the Leuvas and Kadvas are descendants of Luv and Kush — Lord Ram’s sons — respectively. The Patels of Gujarat hence blindly supported the Ram Mandir agitation and were singularly responsible for electing the first BJP majority government in Gujarat in 1995. This was the reason Keshubhai Patel was made the chief minister instead of Shankarsinh Vaghela.

With Modi’s new OBC Bill, the Patidars of Gujarat were confident that they would soon find a place in the OBC category but whispers began when the Vijay Rupani government expressed no such intentions. The Patidars are a very wealthy community. Their seeking reservation has been often scoffed at because their agitations often have Audis, Mercedes and BMWs lined up. “We have money but no power and only reservation can give us power through government jobs” is what the Patidars strongly believe.

This is the major reason Rupani has had to resign.

If Prime Minister Modi does what he did in 2016 — remove a Patel CM and appoint a Jain — it would cost the BJP dear in the December 2022 state Assembly elections. Mainly because AAP has started building a strong base in Gujarat and is attracting mainly Patels in their fold.

“If Nitin Patel or any other Patel is made chief minister of Gujarat, it means the BJP has lost its battle against the Patidars. And a war has begun,” Patel leader and now Congress vice president Hardik Patel told the Vibes of India.

Covid mismanagement

Despite all the data fudging, threats to media engineered in various forms, and lately a new PR drive to cover up the flaws, Vijay Rupani completely failed to take any timely action to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. The BJP lost most of its loyal bhakts during this period.

There were several foolish decisions taken. First of all, CM Rupani in 2020 went ahead and promoted his Rajkot-based friend’s mechanised ambubags as the latest invention in ventilators. Dhaman, as they were called, were launched with much fanfare until they were exposed. From letting Donald Trump hold his election rally — Ab ki baar Trump Sarkar — in the then Motera stadium to allowing an England-India cricket match in the same stadium — then christened Narendra Modi Stadium — Vijay Rupani consistently indulged in actions that led to a massive Covid spread in the state. Of course, all decisions were taken on the instructions of the BJP high command. 

Soon after Trump’s visit, Rupani remained in complete denial about the migrant issue, resulting in a messy, chaotic situation.

His worst decision, for which he may never be forgiven, was to make ambulance 108 compulsory for all Covid admissions. This resulted in several deaths. In both the waves of the pandemic, the bureaucracy took over, resulting in various anti-public decisions. Of course, data was fudged and Gujarat was masked up as a state that was outstanding in its Covid management. Par public sab jaanti thi. The people knew what was going on.

Pubic perception management failure

Despite the terrible Covid mismanagement, the BJP did managed to handsomely win all the self-governing bodies in Gujarat except for an impressive AAP entry in Surat, Ahmedabad and Godhra. The hero of that victory was, however, not Vijay Rupani. Gujarat BJP chief C R Paatil stole all the thunder. Rupani was sidelined even in his own constituency, Rajkot.

Thus began the decline of Rupani’s image. Paatil as the party president event started convening meetings at Kamalam, the party headquarters, where he would announce the name of the minister in advance and ask people to come with their problems to the party office. A parallel government at the party headquarters further sullied Rupani’s image.

The selection of a PR person after the first wave became the last straw that broke the camel’s back as far as Rupani’s public perception was concerned. He not only became overconfident but started fumbling in public and became a jocular figure with his style and mannerisms. Memes mocking him flew thick and fast. No bureaucrat, not even those close to him, told him that the chief minister was heading towards a real PR disaster, sources in the know told Vibes of India.

Sour Relations with C R Paatil

This will never be openly acknowledged by either the CM or CR, but it is an open secret that the two of them did not sync well.

The BJP is not a party to tolerate parallel power structures. With PM Modi and HM Amit Shah already being keenly involved in the home state of Gujarat, Vijay Rupani had always maintained a quiet demeanour never missing a chance to credit the PM for everything good that happened in the state and taking personal blame for everything that didn’t work well. This equation changed after Paatil became the BJP president.

With his money, muscle and manpower, Paatil was successful in creating an overpowering image that overshadowed the chief minister. The CM never lost his grace but Paatil was often crude and contradicted what Rupani said. The parallel government functioning that he began at Kamalam became a key point of friction despite several friendly or fabricated photo ops and gatherings.

While Rupani got labeled as an Amit Shah man, Paatil became the new Modi man in Gujarat. This further dented Rupani’s image because CR made no efforts to hide that he was the master’s ears and voice in Gujarat.

Gujarat, of course, is a model state.

All BJP experiments have been conducted in the fertile, RSS-favoured land of Gujarat. Be it consolidation of Dalits in the otherwise Brahminical RSS or consolidating the OBC against Muslims in India, the clinical trials were always held in Gujarat.

PM Modi and the BJP have recently changed two other chief ministers — in Karnataka and Uttarakhand. Maybe they want to send a message to Uttar Pradesh to be on guard and not to take the party high command for granted. If a CM can be changed in Gujarat, surely it can be done in UP also.

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  1. Vipul Acharya

    Partly true, c.m. s.are changed as per their convenience, and that’s ever changing, some time age factor,cast equations… win ability is 9only criteria.

  2. Yagnesh Acharya

    If handling of corona situation is reason for cm replacement then Modi name must be come first as India has seen the pathetic plight of Migrant workers across India. People were dying because of lack of oxizen, ventilators, shortages of beds, life saving Remedisiver vials, 108 and what not. World media has taken note of it. But he masterly switch over this lacuna on to the cms. I am sure that he will not dare to replace Yogi as later is big Pathologist of Hindu Laboratory in UP. His vahini, an outfit is stronger there. If bjp make mistake to replace him than the popular line that ‘Delhi ka Rasta UP se jata hai’ will be tasted and may put bjp in doldrum to face 2024.

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