Removing Vijay Rupani from the chief minister’s post in Gujarat and bringing all new faces in the cabinet with Bhupendra Patel in his place is an experiment that will be discussed for a long time. In the 2017 state assembly elections, Modi and Shah had to chew their noses for a majority. Despite Modi holding the largest number of meetings in any one state in relation to its population, Amit Shah’s long camp and the power of the entire party, somehow it managed to get a majority of 99 seats. It was believed that the displeasure of Patel caste cost BJP dearly. In such a situation, the first explanation for bringing in Bhupendra Patel in place of Vijay Rupani can be that it is an attempt to remove the displeasure of Patels. In addition to 7 Patels, the inclusion of 6 Extremely Backward, 5 Adivasis, 3 Kshatriyas, 2 Brahmins and one Dalit and Jain in the cabinet will also be considered as an attempt to achieve caste equation.
In such a situation, it is necessary to raise the question here that why Narendra Modi continues to get huge support when he is neither from Patel caste nor does he have a large caste base in Gujarat? Even today, his popularity in Gujarat is more than any other leader, so it means that a large section of Patels also consider him as their leader. Electoral analysis of 2014 and 2019 shows that a large section of the society, irrespective of caste, sect and region, voted in favor of Modi. In such a situation, it is often difficult to believe that Modi himself will bring the caste equation at the center of the decision for electoral success. If so, what would it be called? Will it be called a memorandum of gratitude to those who voted by rising above caste and sectarian discrimination? Talking about the limited context of Gujarat, Patel’s displeasure had come to the fore as soon as Anandiben Patel was the Chief Minister. If a Patel being the Chief Minister or having a sufficient number of Patel community people in the cabinet would have removed the displeasure, then there would have been no chance of making Vijay Rupani the Chief Minister in place of Anandiben Patel.
The messages emanating from the change of the entire cabinet in Gujarat can be said to be harmful both in the present and in the future. Modi himself has been giving importance to his qualification, honesty and ideological loyalty more than caste and region in the selection of the Chief Ministers of the states as well as the Union Cabinet. Manohar Lal Khattar has no caste base in Haryana. Yogi Adityanath is a monk in Uttar Pradesh. It is also a matter of consideration that after the change of leadership in Karnataka, this criterion was not adopted in the selection of the cabinet there. This was not the case in Uttarakhand also.
Snatched the chief minister’s chair from Vijay Rupani, now BJP will remove it from Gujarat too… preparing to make governor?
Other aspects of the Gujarat experiment also raise concerns. Not giving place to former ministers in the cabinet means that the one who proved his worth by doing a better job and the one who did not do a good job, they are both considered equal. This will create a general impression that brother, you do not work, when Modi ji wishes, you will be replaced by someone else.
By the way, it was already clear that there would be massive changes in the government and organization at the national and regional levels as the BJP has failed to play the dominant role expected during the second wave of Corona and after the West Bengal debacle. These will also take care of the upcoming elections. But the change that happened in Gujarat is difficult to justify on the basis of logic. At present, if the central leadership is strong and effective in the form of Narendra Modi, then there will not be a big rebellion against it, but it is not necessary that there should always be such a capable leadership. If such a decision becomes a tradition, it may also lead to a split in the party in future.
BJP’s ‘new government’ in Gujarat this time, why did the party play such a bet?
BJP should keep in mind that Congress used to change leadership and cabinet in this style. However, even there the incident of replacing the entire cabinet never happened. Till the time of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, it did not appear to cause any major damage to the party, but in many states, the manner in which the party is on the verge of extinction, is because the central leadership made arbitrary changes in the states. The qualitative difference between the BJP and the Congress is that Modi or Shah give priority to the political future and ideology of the party rather than personal loyalty in the selection of ministers. Despite this, it is worrying about the future. In parliamentary democracy, it is decided that there will be a leader with majority in the parliament or assemblies, but even then the face of that leadership is already exposed to the public. Parties all over the world go to the public only by putting in front the candidate for the post of Prime Minister, President or Chancellor. Only the formality of the election of the leader is completed inside the houses. The message should not go that a leader was imposed from above.
no guarantee of success
Most importantly, it cannot even be considered a guarantee of success. The BJP did not give ticket to any councilor who had won the previous Delhi civic elections in the past. It did not appear to have affected the result much. It also did not have an effect in the Delhi Assembly elections. In Gujarat, even if a majority is secured in the next elections, it cannot be claimed that the reason for the victory was this experiment of change of the entire cabinet.
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are those of the author.