Amit Shah’s Gujarat visit puts leadership change speculations to rest

Speculations over any change in leadership in the Gujarat government has been laid to rest, at least for now. With just a year and a half left for the assembly elections, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani looks firmly ensconced in the saddle after Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to his constituency. In fact, on Monday, he brushed aside questions on a probable expansion of his cabinet, dashing the hopes of several wannabes in the party.

If party sources are to be believed, a leadership change in the post-Covid second wave scenario would have sent out a tacit message of admission of having bungled up on its management, which the party can ill afford.

Some of Rupani’s predecessors –– Keshubhai Patel or Anandi Patel ––weren’t as lucky. If Keshubhai was unceremoniously replaced in the aftermath of the Kutch earthquake in 2001, little more than a year before the 2002 election, Anandi Patel had to vacate his post in 2016 in the wake of the

agitation ahead of the 2017 Gujarat polls.

The tussle between Rupani and Gujarat BJP president CR Patil, as well as the unease between Rupani and his deputy Nitin Patel, had kept political circles abuzz since the day they assumed their respective offices. Patel had seen his chief ministerial ambitions brutally dashed with the elevation of Rupani and had sulked for days before assuming office as he wasn’t allotted the finance portfolio. Patil, on the other hand, has been aggressively bolstering BJP’s reach as a party, much to the discomfort of those in the government.

But all these creases are being ironed out. The state had witnessed a flurry of high profile visits of national BJP leaders recently with Dharmendra Pradhan, Bhupendra Yadav, Amit Shah and B Satish flying to Gujarat to put the house in order. Party members unwilling to be named said that “Amitbhai has been unhappy with the way things are in the state and is ensuring that works get done in coordination between the party and the government”.

On Tuesday, Vijay Rupani put out a tweet from his personal account informing people that he had had a telephonic conversation in the morning with his colleague Nitin Patel and wished him on his birthday.

Meanwhile, Shah, during his two-day visit to Gujarat, inaugurated development projects in his Lok Sabha constituency in Gandhinagar, apart from holding meetings with party members.

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