Dalit uprising may have contributed to Anandiben Patel’s ouster | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Dalit uprising may have contributed to Anandiben Patel’s ouster

Statewide agitations by Dalits over the flogging of four Dalit youths in Rajkot might have been the trigger behind Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel’s resignation on Monday, but BJP party leadership had been preparing to replace her for the last seven months.

india Updated: Aug 02, 2016 01:13 IST
HT Correspondent
Anandiben Patel visits a dalit man who was assaulted by cow protectors recently, at a hospital in Rajkot district.
Anandiben Patel visits a dalit man who was assaulted by cow protectors recently, at a hospital in Rajkot district.(PTI)

Statewide agitations by Dalits over the flogging of four Dalit youths in Rajkot might have been the trigger behind Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel’s resignation on Monday, but BJP party leadership had been preparing to replace her for the last seven months.

The party’s poor show in local bodies’ elections last December had alarm bells ringing at the BJP’s Ashoka Road headquarters in Delhi. The Patidar agitation led by Hardik Patel threatened to weaken the BJP’s sway in rural pockets of Gujarat, forcing the party’s top brass to start thinking about a change of guard. The nationwide outrage over atrocities against Dalits in the state, which threatened to damage the party’s prospects in assembly elections early next year, sealed Patel’s fate.

The BJP had bagged over 50% of the vote share to wrest 30 of the 31 district panchayats in 2010. But last year, it could win just six district panchayats and its vote share dipped by 7 %. The Congress increased its tally from one to 24 district panchayats. The results of elections to the taluka panchayats were equally distressing for the BJP - from 150 (with 48.51% votes) in 2010 to just 67 (with 42.32% votes) in 2015.

“There were problems even during the rule of Narendra Modi, but he never allowed them to get out of hand. She (Anandiben)could not step into Modi’s giant boots,” a BJP leader said.

Party sources told HT that it was BJP chief Amit Shah who prevailed upon Prime Minister Modi for a leadership change in Gujarat.

Shah wanted the change to happen much earlier but Patel dug in her heels. But she gave up once the message was clear that even Modi was unhappy with the current situation in Gujarat. “It was communicated to her last month that she will have to make way for a younger leader,” a source said.

State BJP chief Vijay Rupani (59), health minister Nitin Patel (60), and assembly speaker Ganpatbhai Vasava (45) are frontrunners to replace Anandiben.