Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, in a surprise decision, announced his resignation from the post on Saturday. He made the announcement after summoning the media at the Raj Bhavan in Gandhinagar. While speculations are rife regarding the matter, the precise reasons behind the resignation are not yet clear.
Elections are due in the state in December next year. It appears likely that the BJP wishes to go into the next elections with a new Chief Ministerial face. While there is nothing to suggest that he was particularly unpopular in Gujarat, there are speculations that he resigned due to health reasons.
Some believe the resignation was necessitated by the fact that Vijay Rupani has been unwell for the past few months, making it unfeasible for him to continue as Chief Minister for another term. Thus, BJP wishes to contest the elections with a face that is familiar with the citizens of the state by the time the elections arrive.
It is also pertinent to mention that the resignation comes only a couple of days after the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) demolished a Hindu Temple while devotees and locals in the area protested the move. A video of the incident had gone viral on social media, much to the consternation of supporters on social media.
It is not clear whether the unfortunate event contributed to the resignation. But it is understandable why the BJP would look to avoid any anti-incumbency sentiments ahead of the elections next year.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh had also resigned at a time when there were tensions between his administration and priests in the state over the takeover of the management of Hindu Temples.
The possibility of early elections in the state appears unlikely at this point. With elections already due next year, it is far more likely that the party will prefer to head into the elections with a Chief Ministerial candidate that is recognizable by the public and also has the credibility of a few months of experience at the job.
Only in July, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa had resigned over concerns regarding his age. He was succeeded by his protege Basavaraj Bommai. While Rupani’s successor has not been announced, Mansukh Mandaviya is rumoured to be preferred candidate for the job.
Regardless of his resignation, Vijay Rupani deserves credit for steering the state, and his party, through two major crisis. The first was the Patidar Andolan and the second was the Coronavirus pandemic and on both occasions, he has passed the test with flying colours.
Furthermore, there does not appear to be any conflict within the party due to the resignation and Rupani has not made any effort to cause any strife. “I have resigned as chief minister of Gujarat. I was given the opportunity to serve the state for five years. I will further do whatever is asked by my party,” he said.
Vijay Rupani also expressed his gratitude toward Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP chief while making the announcement. Thus, it is unlikely that the resignation will lead to awkward positions for the party.