In a sudden move ahead of Assembly polls, Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, who is in the midst of several challenges, today offered to resign, saying it was time for new leadership to take over since she is soon going to turn 75.
During Patel’s over two-year-old tenure, the BJP for the first time in the post-Narendra Modi era in Gujarat has faced multiple challenges including defeat in rural areas in the civic polls, a powerful agitation by Patel community for OBC quota and the ongoing Dalit unrest over the flogging incident after the skinning of a dead cow in Una.
BJP President Amit Shah said the party’s Parliamentary Board will decide on the replacement for Patel, who will turn 75 on November 21 and is the first woman chief minister of Gujarat. “She has requested the party to relieve her of her post. I will place the letter she has written to me before the Parliamentary Board and it will take a decision,” Shah told PTI in Delhi.
Patel took to Facebook to request the party leadership to relieve her of the post though speculation has been rife for quite some time that she is on the way out. Elections are due in later part of 2017.
An unwritten age bar of 75 has been set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the BJP leaders to hold positions in state and central governments. A minister in the BJP government since 1998, Patel succeeded Modi as Chief Minister on May 22, 2014.
“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,” Patel said in the Facebook post.
“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,” she 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.
“It (the rule of 75) is a good thing and it will give a chance to young leaders to come up,” she added.