Former Chief Minister of Gujarat Vijay Rupani said he was asked to step down from his post only the previous night by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) “high command”, adding he handed over the resignation letter with “a smiling face, not a sulking one”.
“Aagla divasey ratre j kidhu ane mein bije divesey aapi j didhu (They told me the previous night and I submitted it (resignation) the very next day),” he said in an interview to The Indian Express.
Rupani, who stepped down on September 11, 2021, said that the party had not given him a reason for that, and he did not ask for it either.
“I did not ask for a reason and therefore they didn’t give me one. Had I asked, they would have told, perhaps. But I didn’t even bother to ask as I have always been a disciplined worker of the party. I have always done what the party has asked me to do. The party made me chief minister, so I became one. Then the party told me that they are replacing me and I told them to do it happily. As a good worker, I have never gone against the party line, and therefore tendered my resignation the very next day… And I submitted it with a smiling face, not a sulking one,” he said.
The BJP veteran leader was brought in mid-term as the CM of Gujarat by the BJP in 2016 and removed mid-term in a sudden move on September 11 last year. In a major rejig recently, Rupani was assigned the role of party in-charge in Punjab and Chandigarh.
“Punjab is a weak state from the point of view of the BJP. When the party has given me the responsibility of the state, it must expect that I go there and work hard and get results. Thus, the party has reposed faith in me. This means a lot to me. I view this as a challenge and an opportunity to prove my strength,” he said.
With the elections coming near, Rupani said that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is not a challenge in the state since people of Gujarat have never believed in “getting things for free”. The AAP is promising free education, healthcare in mohalla clinics, among other things, if voted to power in the state where the BJP is ruling for the past 27 years.
“AAP is not a big challenge, for the simple reason that people of Gujarat have never believed in getting things for free. They are khamirvanti (enterprising) people. They are self-prodded people and a traders’ community. Narendra Modi, who is from Gujarat, is leading the Central government and therefore it is like mosale ma pirasnaar (mother serving meals at her parents’ home). People understand that it is beneficial if there is a BJP government here too. So, I don’t think that AAP is a big challenge here,” the former CM said.
On the slogan of ‘double engine ki sarkar’, Rupani said that the state is benefitting because the BJP is ruling at the centre and that the electorate do understand that this is an “advantage” for them, as so many projects have come to the state, only because of the lotus party’s rule at the Centre.
“The ‘Double engine ki sarkar’ slogan was coined during the Assembly elections in UP (earlier this year). But I would go a step further than that. Today, Gujarat is the ultimate authority in Delhi — Narendra Modi is the Prime Minister of the country and Amit Shah is the Home Minister of the country,” he said.
“Just look at how much advantage Gujarat has! An AIIMS is being set up in Rajkot, an international airport is being constructed in Rajkot, Gujarat has got the opportunity to host the National Games, big stadiums are being constructed, Metro train, bullet train — Gujarat is getting all this because there is our government at the Centre. Gujaratis understand that they stand to gain from this. Had there been another government here… we had to do andolan (agitation) even for the Narmada dam project,” he added.