In the wake of recent unrest in Gujarat, chief minister Anandiben Patel on Monday submitted her resignation both to top BJP leaders as well as the BJP state unit head, Vijay Rupani, through a post on Facebook.
Anandiben, who turns 75 in November, has offered to quit for the second time in as many months, ostensibly on account of her advancing age. “I have asked to be relieved of my duties two months before that.” (Her birthday is in November when she turns 75). Through a letter posted on her Facebook and Twitter pages, Patel said she was resigning so as to allow the new incumbent enough time to prepare for the upcoming elections in Gujarat, as well as important events like Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2017.
Meanwhile, at a hastily convened press conference in New Delhi, BJP president Amit Shah confirmed that the party has received the Gujarat CM’s resignation but that a decision will be taken by the BJP Parliamentary Board.
Speaking of the precedent set by other senior political leaders of BJP who had “voluntarily given up their responsibilities” at the age of 75 years, Patel said she would turn 75 in November, and wished to give the new generation of leaders an opportunity to work. She added that she had written to the top brass of the party two months before as well, offering to resign.
Having joined BJP as the Gujarat Pradesh Mahila Morcha President in 1987, Patel became the first woman Chief Minister of the state in 2014 when then-CM Narendra Modi moved to Delhi to serve as the Prime Minister. Patel had been a part of Modi’s Cabinet in Gujarat as well, and had served as Cabinet Minister of Road and Building, Revenue, Urban Development and Urban Housing, Disaster Management and Capital Projects from 2007 to 2014.
Gujarat goes to the polls next year with the ruling BJP clearly on the back foot with two major uprisings shaking the state, cited as a model state for development post 2002 when it witnessed one of the worst riots in Independent India following the killing of kar sevaks in Godhra.
Last month, four young Dalit men were allegedly tied to a car, stripped to their waists, and thrashed by cow vigilantes, who uploaded the video on social media. The assault has led to huge protests by Dalits in the state, including a major demonstration in Ahmedabad Sunday last and opened up the government to accusations of failing to protect the weakest sections of society. The Dalits have issued a dire warning that they will not only cripple the administration by refusing to clean sewars and pick dead cattle but will also ensure the ouster of the BJP government in the Assembly polls next year.