BJP leaders say the party wants a charismatic leader, who could revitalise the party’s support among the influential Patels, as the next Gujarat Chief Minister
New Delhi: Is Anandiben Patel on her way out as the Gujarat CM? If you ask BJP insiders dealing with the day-to-day affairs of the party, it seems so. But her one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to paint an entirely different picture. Even national BJP president Amit Shah was not present at the meeting; Anandiben’s uneasiness with Shah is no secret.
So, what’s cooking? Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tete-a-tete with Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel in New Delhi on Monday. Pic/PTI
“As the Assembly election in Gujarat is due next year, the BJP is mulling over replacing Chief Minister Anandiben Patel with a charismatic state leader who could revitalise the party’s support among the influential Patels vis-à-vis the Patidar agitation, which slipped out of the control of the incumbent government,” said a party source.
Anandiben’s day in Delhi started with a meeting at the PMO, in which she discussed the drought situation in her state. This was followed by a one-on-one meeting with Modi. “The first meeting was for discussion on a host of issues in the state, including the drought. The meeting, which started at 10.30 am, was also attended by Union Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh, who left the PMO at 11.30 am. The CM left the PMO around 1 pm,” said eyewitnesses at the South Block. According to sources, a change at the helm is certain, but Anandiben, after her meeting with Modi, seemed happy and flew back to Gandhinagar.
At Shah residence...
At the same time, Shah held a meeting with party general secretary Om Mathur and Gujarat minister Nitin Patel at his residence on Akbar Road. Nitin Patel’s presence has made political pundits believe that he is one of the frontrunners for the post of the CM. Nitin Patel, who holds an array of portfolios, including health, medical education, family welfare, roads and buildings, and capital project, also met the PM.
According to sources, Om Mathur, Modi’s confidant in charge of Gujarat, recently submitted an internal report, which faults Anandiben’s handling of the Patel agitation and calls for an urgent need to end infighting in the state unit. The report proposes a change in both the government and the party structure, if the BJP wants to hold power in 2017, sources said. They added Anandiben might be appointed as a governor to Punjab or Haryana. Seventy-five year old Anandiben was handpicked as the CM by Modi, after he vacated the post to become the Prime Minister in 2014. Age may also play a crucial role in the decision, as Modi has put an age limit for leaders to be active in political posts.