Vijay Rupani's road to exit: Why BJP replaced chief minister in Gujarat
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Is Vijay Rupani a political casualty of Covid-19 pandemic in Gujarat? The word in the BJP circles is that Vijay Rupani's response to Covid-19, particularly during the second wave of the pandemic earlier this year, cost him his position.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) replaced Vijay Rupani, considered close to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, with Bhupendra Patel, an Anandiben Patel-loyalist, as the Gujarat chief minister. Vijay Rupani's road to exit from the Gujarat chief minister's office happened on the back of an unusual flurry of exits from top position in two more BJP-ruled states. The BJP, known to give its chief ministers a long run at power, has now seen four chief ministerial changes in the past two months.


Gujarat was one of the worst-hit states during the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic. Shortage of medical oxygen, medicines, hospital beds and overall management led the Gujarat High Court in April this year to remark that the Vijay Rupani government's response was "not satisfactory and not transparent".

With its top two leaders, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, coming from Gujarat after establishing a politically successful model of development, Gujarat holds a special place in the BJP's overall strategy.

Also Read: How Vijay Rupani survived as Gujarat CM for five years

Under Vijay Rupani, public perception a year before the assembly polls combined with the high court's comments is said to have pushed the BJP to effect leadership change in Gujarat. The BJP did not see Vijay Rupani emerging as a "strong and efficient leader" who could deal with multiple challenges in Gujarat and lead the party to victory in 2022 polls.


Another factor that possibly worked against Vijay Rupani was caste calculus. Vijay Rupani was the first Gujarat chief minister from the Jain community, a minority but influential vote bank. He had rivals within the party from the stronger Patel-Patidar community.

In 2016, when Vijay Rupani replaced Anandiben Patel, handpicked by PM Modi, as Gujarat chief minister, he was not the lead contender. Deputy chief minister Nitin Patel was. But Amit Shah's backing helped Vijay Rupani.

The 'Patel camp' in the BJP was…
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