The president of the Gujarat BJP unit, CR Paatil, has stated that Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel will oversee a new term ahead of the state assembly elections this year. Paatil made the announcement at an event, reports said.
“Prime Minister Bhupendra Patel has done a good job and he would be repeated (for another term),” Paatil said when asked who would become the party’s next prime minister, at a TV9 event. Patel, a first-time MLA, was the surprising choice of the BJP as prime minister after the resignation of Vijay Rupani in September last year.
With Patel apparently set to be the face of the party for the Gujarat elections, political pundits attribute a myriad of reasons to the choice. News18 investigates some of them:
Why Bhupendra was chosen in 1st place gives clues…
To replace Rupani, Patel seemed like an almost ideal choice. According to reports, Patel has an immaculate image and, most importantly, he was the youngest candidate for the position. BJP leaders in New Delhi were quoted as saying: India today that because he did not bring any luggage to the position, he would be ‘much easier to control and appease Patidar satraps through the party high command’. “A leader with a clean slate has an advantage. It helps in balancing power,” said a Delhi leader.
Why Patels Are Important
Patidars (or Patels) claim to be descendants of Lord Ram. The community accounts for 12-14 percent of the electorate, but is extremely powerful, both financially and politically, and is spread across the state, with a concentration in northern Gujarat and Saurashtra. In at least 70 of the 182 assembly segments, their votes determine the outcome. They are an important voting bloc for the BJP, accounting for a third of its MLAs.
The Patidar community, which forms the BJP’s main voting bank, has been seen as a departure from it in recent years, a report from the Indian Express states. This was reflected in the local body elections in February where, despite the BJP winning almost all bodies, the Aam Aadmi party (AAP) stormed into Surat, home of state party leader CR Paatil, to take over the main opposition of the municipal company. by anti-BJP Patidar votes.
The death of the late BJP CM Keshubhai Patel last year left a void in the community as he had dared to fight the BJP in 2012, supported by many of its Patidar leaders. Younger Patidar leaders had openly demanded that the next CM be elected from within the community, I.E reported.
The BJP has also performed admirably in the two elections it has had to pass: the one for the Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation and nearly 9,000 grams of panchayats. While the BJP won 41 of the Gandhinagar company’s 44 seats, it is estimated that it won more than 70% of the gram panchayat seats, which are not contested on party lines.
A ‘fixed term’?
According to another report by the Indian Express, the BJP has also performed well in the two elections it has undergone under Bhupendra: the one for the Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation and nearly 9,000 grams of panchayats. While the BJP won 41 of the Gandhinagar company’s 44 seats, it is estimated to have won more than 70% of gram panchayat seats, which are not contested on party lines, the report said.
The report also quotes a senior party official as saying that the “CM is a man who makes decisions slowly but surely and sticks to his ‘limitations’.”
The added that he does not believe that Bhupendra Patel’s government was appointed in the hope of “performing a miracle”, pointing out that the order was clear: not to make big mistakes.
The leader goes on to say that given Bhupendra’s lack of experience in the top position and the current difficult times, he deserved credit for not making bad decisions. “And when mistakes were made (such as failing to appoint an OBC commission in time to meet a legal requirement, or the livestock law), the damage was quickly mitigated,” they said.
‘No problem with what someone eats’
Reports also credit Patel for not allowing his government to “get bogged down in unnecessary squabbles typically associated with the BJP and often fueled by its affiliated organizations.”
As an IE report states, at the height of some BJP leaders’ protests against the sale of non-vegetarian food on the street, one of Patel’s most powerful public statements was that his government “had no problem with what anyone ate”.
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