In a surprise move, the BJP on Saturday sacked its Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, 65, sending him to the Governor Acharya Devrat in Gandhinagar to resign forthwith.
A top party source said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, both from Gujarat, were not satisfied with his performance and wanted to bring in a Patidar in his place. Prime Minister Modi, who was in Ahmedabad for a function, directed Rupani receiving him at the airport to resign immediately, sources said.
Rupani was removed 15 months ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections in December 2022. He thus becomes the third BJP chief minister sacked this year on account of performance and resentment of the party leaders. The first was Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat who quit barely four months after replacing Trivendra Rawat, followed by the resignation of stalwart BS Yeddiyurappa in July as the Karnataka Chief Minister.
The BJP leaders in New Delhi described Rupani’s resignation as a part of the “course correction” to keep the party fighting fit for the elections.
Rupani, an MLA from Rajkot, had taken over as the 16th CM in August 2016 from Anandben Patel, 79, who went on to become the governor of Madhya Pradesh and then the governor of Uttar Pradesh. He was sworn in again in August 2017 after the BJP won the elections. Modi specially flew in to attend his swearing-in ceremony.
Emerging from the Gujarat Raj Bhawan, Rupani said, “Have completed a five-year journey for development of Gujarat, under the guidance of PM Modi. Now, to further develop the state, with new energy and power, I have decided to resign as the chief minister.”
Rajya Sabha member from Bhavnagar, Mansukh Mandaviya, who was also in Ahmedabad, was the first to reach Rupani’s residence, leading to a speculation that he may be the BJP’s choice as the successor.
He stressed that there should be no surprise since “it is well known that the BJP, as a party, keeps changing as per requirements as it is a speciality of our party that every worker delivers to the fullest”. He said he too would continue to work for the party with the same energy.