With a year to go for the assembly elections in Gujarat, BJP and its top brass are covering their bases by fielding in new faces to remove the anti-incumbency factor. After dropping Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, his seat has been given to Bhupendra Patel with the latter expected to bring an entirely new cabinet. BJP through its ‘no-repeat’ experiment is continuing its ‘no prisoners taken’ approach.
Gujarat Governor Acharya Devavrat administered oath to the new CM at the Raj Bhavan in Gandhinagar, earlier in the afternoon. Reportedly, 24 new ministers have been included in Patel’s council of ministers. The leaders let go by the BJP have been talking in hushed tones about the severe treatment meted their way but, it appears that BJP high command, resolute and stoic in its decision is not going to backtrack, even if it hurts the sentiments of few.
Overly relying on PM Modi’s name
Over the years, the western state of Gujarat has become synonymous with the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The BJP state unit leaders have prospered using his name. That’s not to say that the developmental work on the ground has not been substantial. However, according to the BJP high command, few of the leaders have become overly reliant on PM Modi’s name to do their bidding in the elections.
To clear the rut and save the party from any stagnation, the decision to overhaul the cabinet has been undertaken. As reported by TFI, Rupani’s surprise resignation, despite performing reasonably well as the Chief Minister came on the back of the leader suffering from the ‘Raghubar Das Syndrome’.
Politics – a perception battle
Politics is a game of perceptions. One might be extremely efficient in performing functions and discharging the duties, but if the said individual does not maintain a strong media presence, he/she is likely to lose the elections. The same happened with former Jharkhand CM Raghubar Das and BJP feared that Rupani was set on a similar territory as well.
Read more: Vijay Rupani was sacked not because he is incompetent but because of the Raghubar das syndrome
Visibility is important in a state like Gujarat. In the previous assembly elections, Congress, owing to the anti-incumbency factor had managed to erode into the vote share as well as seat share of the saffron party. BJP somehow dodged that bullet but come 2022, its task would be difficult.
The BJP had set an ambitious target of winning 150 seats in 2017 but could only manage to win 99 –its lowest ever tally in Gujarat. Meanwhile, Congress managed to gain 16 seats and settle with 77 assembly wins.
Bhupendra Patel – the shrewd choice
Bhupendra Patel, the first-time MLA from the Ghatlodia constituency was a wildcard pick as none of the so-called political experts had his name in the list of leaders to replace Rupani. However, as explained by TFI, there is a reason why he has been chosen by the BJP high command to lead the party in the state.
Read More: Why BJP chose Bhupendra Patel over Nitin Patel?
The Patidar community, which is divided into two subcastes – Leuva Patel and Kadva Patel, is numerically dominant in the state. Kadva Patel community constitutes 30 per cent of the total Patidar popular while the rest 70 per cent are Leuva Patel.
The Patidar reservation protest, which is going on for the last few years, was primarily led by the Kadva Patidar community, which has no person on the Chief Minister chair; four people from the Patidar community who occupied the CM chair were all from the Leuva Patidar community.
Thus, the protest was primarily driven by the Kadva Patidar community which wants its share in the power corridors of Gandhinagar. Hardik Patel, the young leader who led the protest, is also from the same community.
Read More: Congress tries to ridicule the new Gujarat CM, ended up becoming his PR agents
Taking all the permutations and combinations in mind, BJP appointed Bhupendra Patel, from the Kadva community to the post of CM. Nitin Patel, the strongest candidate with a long-illustrious CV who could not make it, also belongs to the Kadva Patel community. As BJP has fulfilled the demand of a Patidar CM, the community could swing to the saffron party which it has supported since Modi became CM of the state.
BJP wanted a fresh slate, a clear image of leaders and now it has got one. The responsibility is now on Bhupendra Patel to build on the confidence of BJP’s top hierarchy and deliver the state once again.
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