Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani resigns “in the larger interest of the State”

Published : September 11, 2021 20:05 IST

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani submits his resignation letter to Governor Acharya Devvrat at the Raj Bhavan in Gandhinagar on Septemeber 11. Photo: PTI

In an unexpected development, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has resigned. Stating he was following the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) tradition of giving other senior leaders an equal chance at governance, Rupani submitted his resignation letter to Governor Acharya Devvrat on September 11. Rupani, who has held the post since 2016, is the fourth BJP Chief Minister to resign this year.

At a press conference following his announcement, Rupani said the party had taken the decision “in the larger interest of Gujarat” and he had “willingly” resigned. He told the media:

“I am ready to serve in whichever role the party assigns to me…. I want to thank the BJP for giving me this opportunity to serve as Gujarat’s Chief Minister. During my tenure, I got the opportunity to add to the development of the State under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership. I believe that now this journey of the development of Gujarat should proceed under the leadership of the Prime Minister with new enthusiasm and new energy. Keeping this in mind, I am resigning from the responsibility of the Chief Minister of Gujarat."

Rupani’s resignation has come as a surprise, say observers in Gujarat. The Assembly election in the State is slated for December 2022 and the removal of the Chief Minister at this juncture has led to speculation about the BJP’s strategy. Detractors of the Chief Minister believe this is a course correction, as Rupani’s gross mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic in the State and his inability to take a hard-line stance on Hindutva issues affected the party’s image.

Soon after the announcement of the resignation, Manoj Sorathiya, general secretary of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Gujarat, said in a statement: “After 27 years of governance in Gujarat, if the BJP has to change its Chief Minister then it shows its poor state.” Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee president Amit Chavda said: “The BJP is hiding its failures and making Rupani a scapegoat.”

Sources said there appeared to be an internal dispute between the State BJP president C.R. Paatil and Rupani, and that could also have been a reason for Rupani’s ouster.

The new Chief Minister has not yet been announced. BJP legislators are reportedly meeting on September 12 to decide on the new Chief Minister. Gujarat’s deputy Chief Minister Nitinbhai Patel, Union Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, State Cabinet Minister R.C. Faldu, C.R. Paatil and State BJP vice president Gordhan Zadafia are contenders for the post, according to sources.

Earlier this year, the three BJP Chief Ministers who resigned were Uttarakhand’s Trivendra Singh Rawat and Tirath Singh Rawat, and Karnataka’s B.S. Yediyurappa.