Changing Gujarat CM now would make no sense

Vijay Rupani-Nitin Patel team to continue in the new term

GN Bureau | December 22, 2017


#Narendra Modi   #BJP   #Politics   #Elections   #Gujarat   #Vijay Rupani  


Speculation is over, as senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley announced in Gandhinagar Friday that Vijay Rupani will continue as chief minister of Gujarat, along with Nitin Patel as his deputy. The speculation was needless: it made little sense for the party to change the leader at this stage.

 
With the December 19 verdict of the Gujarat assembly elections showing a scary dip in the BJP’s popularity with only 99 seats in its bag, there were unconfirmed reports that the party would name a new CM. The possible candidates for the post also started doing rounds, with the electronic media on Friday naming Vajubhai Vala (long-time state finance minister, former assembly speaker and now Karnataka governor), Mansukhbhai Mandviya (minister of state in the centre), Jeetu Vaghani (state party president), Nitin Patel (outgoing deputy CM) and others as possible contenders.
 
Logically speaking, Rupani was brought in only last year, in August, to counter a negative perception about Anandiben Patel, and there is no justification to remove him now that the elections are over. On the whole, popular perception about Rupani is not negative, even if he can’t match up to the role of Narendra Modi who was Gujarat CM for 13 years. His governance record is ok enough. Caste calculations – to bring in a Patel face at the top – do not apply any more now that vote is over.
 
Bringing in a new face makes sense to counter anti-incumbency. That was the logic to bring in Rupani a year ahead of elections, and also Modi himself a year before the 2002 elections, when Keshubhai Patel’s popularity was going down. That is not needed at this stage – though it may be very much needed ahead of the next elections in 2022.

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