Monday, August 01, 2016

As cracks appear in BJP's Hindutva agenda, Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel "quits" second time in two months

By Our Representative
In a move which has surprised few political observers in Gujarat, chief minister Anandiben Patel on Monday declares her decision to quit the powerful post, which she suggested has not been easy to handle as she succeeded a "towering" Narendra Modi.
She said, succeeding Modi to work as chief minister was “as difficult as counting stars”, though hastening to adds, she has not “fallen back in taking forward the quick pace of development” set by her predecessor.
All knew, Anandiben would quit in November, when she turns 75. The only surprising factor in the whole episode is, she declared her decision on a Facebook post, saying she had offered to quit to top BJP leadership two months earlier, too. Hence, she says, “through this letter (Facebook post), I again ask the party's senior leaders to relieve me.”
Amidst speculations who might succeed, she said in her open letter that she was just “following” the glorious precedence in the party of voluntarily quitting responsibility to allow younger leaders to take over, she said, she turns 75 in November, and believes enough time should be given to the new leader to organize the Vibrant Gujarat business summit in January 2017, and later the assembly elections in December 2017.
What may have expedited Anandiben's decision to quit, which in any case was coming, say observers, is the latest round of Dalit agitation, which for the first time broke a major Hindutva experiment – of driving a wedge between the Dalits and the Muslims, begun two decades ago, reaching a zenith in 2002 Gujarat riots.
Vijay Rupani: Front runner
Cow vigilantes, ideological cohorts of the BJP-Sangh Parivar, had attacked Dalits in Una, leading Dalits to “find friends” among Muslims, seen by the Hindutva brigade as the main antagonists of cow protection.
The latest round of Dalit agitation in Sabarmati on Sunday saw at least a thousand Muslims participate in an agitation, with Mufti Abdul Qayyum, acquitted by the Supreme Court from charges of terrorism in the Akshardham attack of September 2012, participating in the event. As he came to the stage, there were slogans of “Dalit-Muslim ekta zindabadad”.
Even more interesting was when Dalits belonging to the area next to the Naroda-Patiya, where one of the ghastliest massacre of Muslims took place in 2002, took out a silent rally on July 27, tying scarf on their head, said to be as a mark of protest against the “betrayal” they had suffered at the hands of the Vashwa Hindu Parishad. Many described it as an attempt of Dalits to “repent” for attacking Muslims.
The Hindutva talk of "Hindu unity" as the main support base for BJP received another setback: Already turned against BJP, Patel agitation leaders began declaring their intention to befriend those considered their main enemies till now in the quota game – the Dalits and the other backward class (OBC). The Gujarat CM failed to control or cajole Patels, agitating for a year now.
Hardik Patel, released from jail, first supported the Dalit agitation, and then said he also “supported” the OBC demand for better facilities to fight backwardness.
Meanwhile, among those who are considered as likely successors of Anandiben who could carry forward Modi's Hindutva agenda, wrapped in the developmental scarf, are India's BJP chief Amit Shah, the right-hand of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, followed by state BJP chief Vijay Rupani.
While Shah is ruled out because Modi “requires” him to manage all-India politics, many consider Rupani as the front-runner. An affable leader, he is known to be close to both Shah and Modi.
Other likely options being considered include Ganpat Vasava, speaker of the Gujarat state assembly, and state industries and finance minister Saurabh Patel.
An adivasi from South Gujarat and known for keeping BJP flock together, Vasava's choice, it is believed, might help BJP win tribal votes, an area where the BJP particularly weak. As for Saurabh Patel, a refined politician, known for openly pro-industry stance, but is weak on Hindutva agenda.

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