Gandhinagar: The BJP’s top leadership met at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s residence in New Delhi today to accept the resignation of Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel and begin the process of picking her successor, ruling out party chief Amit Shah as a choice.
Among those who attended the meeting, apart from Modi and Shah, were Union ministers Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu, and senior BJP leader JP Nadda.
“The BJP’s parliamentary board has decided to accept the resignation of Anandiben Patel as Gujarat Chief Minister,” Naidu later said, adding that she will go to Raj Bhavan today and submit her resignation to Governor OP Kohli.
Naidu said there is no question of BJP president Amit Shah taking over the state now. “Amit Shah ji is a national leader. He will chair the process of picking a successor, but we have not discussed any name as Patel’s successor,” he said.
“The party wants his leadership. He himself is going to guide the y on who should lead Gujarat,” Naidu told reporters.He added that the next leader will be chosen from the MLAs in Gujarat. “Amit Shah is also an MLA in Gujarat,” he reminded the reporters.
According to sources, BJP workers in Gujarat are inclined to see Shah taking the reign from Patel to revive the BJP’s falling stock in the wake of Dalit and Patidar protests.
Naidu informed reporters that senior BJP leaders Nitin Gadkari and Saroj Pandey have been appointed observers and asked to go to Gujarat and hold meetings with state leaders. “The decision on the next CM will be taken then,” he said.
Though the decision is to be taken at the “highest level” of the BJP leadership, the names doing the rounds as potential successor to Patel include the “number two” in state Cabinet and Health minister Nitin Patel, state BJP chief Vijay Rupani, Union minister Purshottam Rupala, and Assembly Speaker Ganpat Vasava, a tribal leader.
On Monday, Patel, who turns 75 in November, took to Facebook to request the BJP leadership to relieve her of the job, saying it was time for new leaders to take over.
Under Patel, the saffron party had suffered a humiliated setback in civic polls.The BJP also antagonised its loyal vote bank of Patidars who have been demanding OBC quota and staged violent protests last year. Of late, the flogging of Dalits at Una also caused a massive unrest, denting further the party’s image.