Amid Dalit protests, Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel offers to step down
Amid a string of Dalit protests turning the situation difficult for the state government in the state, Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel today took to social media to appeal to the Bhartiya Janata Party leadership to relieve her from the post.
Her request to the party high command comes amid protests by Dalits in Gujarat, a few months after violent protests by Patidar community in the state.
However, she has cited her rising age as the reason she wants to step down from the post. She will turn 75 years this November.
"For the last some time there has been a tradition in the party that those who attain the age of 75, voluntarily retires from the post. I will attain the age of 75 in November," the state's first woman chief minister, who succeeded Narendra Modi on May 22, 2014, said in a Facebook post.
BJP President Amit Shah confirmed that he has received the letter from Gujarat CM which will be forwarded to the Parliamentary board of the party.
"Have received Anandiben Patel ji's letter. Her letter will now be kept before the BJP Parliamentary board for further decision," Shah said.
Sources told India TV that the decision to replace Anandiben Patel was taken in a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah on July 15.
In a letter in Gujarati posted on her Facebook and Twitter accounts, Patel said that she had requested the party leadership to find a replacement two months ago as she wanted to give her successor enough time to prepare for next year’s assembly elections as well as the Gujarat Vibrant Summit.
"I am grateful towards BJP for the amount of responsibilities I have been trusted with over time," she said.
"Two months ago I had requested the party to relieve me from the post and today also through this letter, I request the party to relieve me of the post," Patel said.
"I am asking the party to relieve me two months in advance as the new chief minister will require the time to work, when the state is going to face elections in 2017 and an important event like Vibrant Gujarat Summit to be held in January," Patel said.
Elections in the state are due in the later part of 2017.
The unwritten convention in the party, set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in recent times has been that those attaining the age of 75 have to quit the post.
“Narendra bhai Modi bestowed me the opportunity to become the first female chief minister of Gujarat which was a proud moment of women across the state. He served as Gujarat CM for 12 years and it was a complex task to fill his shoes but I continued the development work,” she said in his post on Facebook.
Anandiben Patel succeeded Narendra Modi as the Gujarat Chief Minister after former took over as the Prime Minister in May 2014.
She was severely criticised for her handling of Patidar protests in April that turned violent, resulting in damage of properties worth thousands of crores.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal said that her resignation is a win for his Aam Aadmi Party and said, "Anandi ji’s resignation is AAP’s win against corruption in Gujarat. This is a result of AAP’s growing popularity in the state. BJP is scared in Gujarat."
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said, "The Gujarat Chief Minister's resignation is an indication of BJP's sure defeat in 2017 elections."