After the Gujarat assembly elections results were declared on 18 Dec, it could be clearly seen that though the Bhartiya Janta Party managed to win the polls, but since 1985 it was the party’s worst-ever electoral performance. It is the first time since the party came to power in Gujarat and ever since has been the ruling party, that BJP scored under 100 seats. Many were blaming the incumbent Chief Minister Vijay Rupani to be responsible for this loss of seats.
Quite a few BJP members and political experts were of the opinion that Rupani nowhere matched the aura of his predecessors, Narendra Modi or for that matter even Anandiben Patel. Anti-incumbency was rising in the state and the lack of Rupani being able to connect with the people of Gujarat and address their problems was one of the reasons for it, as analysed by the political experts.
The poor performance of BJP in the recent polls, also indicated that Rupani would not make it again to the chair of the Chief Minister. However, as it is said, nothing can be predicted in politics and often the opposite happens.Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday, in a press conference, announced that Vijay Rupani will continue to be the Chief Minister of Gujarat. This announcement came as a shock to many and especially Nitin Patel, who was also in the race to become the next CM.
Though Jaitley announced the second term for Rupani, it is believed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP party president Amit Shah chose him. It is also said that when it comes to choosing and appointing the Chief Ministers, Amit Shah has a habit of surprising the others, and so he did this time as well.
It had come as a major surprise when now the Hindutva icon of BJP, Yogi Adityanath was chosen to be the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. Before him, the decision of making Manoharlal Khattar the Chief Minister of Haryana was also unexpected by many. Keeping the norm, Shah has once again given the surprise by announcing a second term for incumbent Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.
Another possible reason that could be seen behind this appointment is the influence of BJP’s parent party – RSS. Vijay Rupani does not have a very long political career, however, he does have a background of being a dedicated RSS activist. He first became the mayor of Rajkot which is the business hub of Saurashtra and was then chosen as the Chief Minister, when Anandiben Patel stepped down from the post in wake of age in 2016. According to the sources, it is the influence and the backing of the RSS that he was nominated for the post once again.
Also, as per the sources, Vijay Rupani is close to Amit Shah, while Nitin Patel who a close aide of Anandiben Patel is not in the good books of Shah. This could be another possible reason to Chose Rupani over Patel.
Meanwhile, Nitin Patel will continue to be as the Deputy Chief Minister, the second in command.
Soon after his appointment as the Chief Minister for the second term, Rupani in an interview to the press spoke about his long and short term priorities. He said that “It’s a great honour for me personally as well as for the lakhs of karyakartas of our party. I got only 16 months as CM in my first term but tried to contribute as much possible to the development of state against all odds.”
Talking about his first term as the CM, he said that in the short duration of 16 months, including the two months when the model code of conduct was in practice he tried to address all possible issues. He further added that his government successfully addressed the aspirations of Patidars and other general category castes by a new corporation and a commission. Also talking about the farmer’s problems, Rupani said that we addressed the problem of the minimum support price for the goods of the farmers and also provided zero-interest loans. The Chief Minister said that under his rule the government completed the long pending Narmada dam work and issues with the GOI addressed by the Prime Minister.
He also gave details about the new acts and laws taken under during his reign including the new Fee Regulation Act, the new prohibition law, the new law to prevent cow slaughter and the new law to regularize societies etc.
Vijay Rupani als0 underlined the goals for the second term, he said that “It’s not that we are in a panic after losing some seats in rural areas, but certainly there will be major policy focus on addressing rural areas. There will be balanced development in rural and urban areas. Rural and all-round development of the state will be our focus.” He also spoke about effect of Gujarat election in the coming Lok Sabha elections due in 2019. “Though Congress has won some more seats and we lost around 15 seats, it will affect the Lok Sabha results. Gujarat voted by trusting the leadership of PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah and the BJP’s 22-year track record of development. Assembly and Lok Sabha elections always have different issues. People will again vote for the BJP like in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections to continue the development journey started by Narendrabhai in the country,” Rupani said.
Addressing a query of whether the Patidar agitation and the caste groups will be challenging for him, in his second term, Rupani said that the results have shown that the Patidars have stayed with the BJP and will continue to do so. He further added that the communities have rejected the divisive force and the government in the coming days will all the concerns of the community by constitutional means. He also added that he will not allow any further damage to the social fabric of Gujarat.
Underlining, the government’s plans for Gujarat in the coming days, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said that “We will bring new policies for various sectors and focus on the best outcomes of central and state schemes in the coming days. The coming budget will have major new schemes and policies.”
Vijay Rupani is most likely to take oath as the Chief Minister of Gujarat for the second time on Monday, 25 Dec.