About two months ahead of her 75th birthday, Anandiben Patel has offered to step down as Gujarat’s first woman chief minister. In a social media post, she asked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership to relieve her of the top responsibility in the state. Citing examples of party members who have stepped down after attaining the age of 75, Anandiben Patel said she was following the same. “Since sometime, senior partyworkers have voluntarily stepped down after attaining the age of 75 years to make way for the next generation in the party, which is exemplary for all. Even I would be completing 75 years in November. However, 2017 will see state Assembly elections being held in Gujarat in December as well as the biennial Vibrant Gujarat Summit in January. In order to provide ample time for the new chief minister for these events, through this letter, I humbly request the senior party leadership to relieve me from the responsibility two months in advance,” she said in a post published in Gujarati on her Facebook and Twitter pages. Vijay Rupani and Nitin Patel are said to be among the front runners for the CM’s post. Health Minister Nitin - a Leuva Patel - is a seasoned politician. Vijay Rupani - a Jain Baniya - is new to the state government, though he has been associated with the BJP for many years. In the last couple of years or so, especially after Narendra Modi went to New Delhi as the prime minister, Nitin Patel has risen within the ranks.
What could work in favour of the Patidar community member is his experience in the state administration, especially in ensuring stability in the government and a steady flow of investments. Vijay Rupani was made a minister recently. Belonging to a non-Patidar community and known to be close to Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah, Vijay Rupani is seen as a neutral non-controversial contender.
Observers see the latest development as a move that could not only salvage BJP's prospects in the Assembly elections next year, but also help the state retain its image as an investment destination.
The party high command is yet to accept the resignation of Anandiben Patel, Gujarat's first woman chief minister. The post by Anandiben Patel has put to rest speculations of her exit that had risen in the wake of the recent resignation by Union Minister Najma Heptulla due to the undeclared age bar of 75 years for ministers put by PM.
Earlier, a couple of ministers in Madhya Pradesh were dropped from the state Cabinet by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan due to the age bar.