Junior council: On BJP building of new leadership in Gujarat

No member of the previous Council of Ministers has found a place in the reconstituted Ministry led by Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel in Gujarat. Of the 25-member council of the BJP, nine members including the Chief Minister are first time legislators. Only three members have any previous ministerial experience. Ten are cabinet rank Ministers, five are MoS with independent charge and nine are MoS. Seven belong to the Patidar community, which got the lion’s share; there are four from STs, two from SC communities, and eight from the various OBC castes. The BJP hopes to blunt the anti-incumbency sentiment against it before the State goes to polls next year through this clinical scrubbing. The party has been in power since 1998 without a break. Over the years, several Ministers had become power centres, and many were accused of being arrogant and aloof. The previous Vijay Rupani government had Ministers who continued from councils led by Keshubhai Patel, Narendra Modi and Anandiben Patel. While the Chief Ministers changed, political heavyweights such as Nitin Patel, Kaushik Patel, Bhupendrasinh Chudasama and Saurabh Patel continued as influential Ministers. They have all been eased out this time. Whether they will quietly fade away or create trouble for the new Chief Minister is an open question.

The BJP has done a balancing act in ensuring representation for major castes and communities, while cutting out veterans to rope in fresh faces. Purshottam Solanki, who served as a junior Minister in all BJP governments due to his formidable hold over the numerically strong Koli community in the Saurashtra region, has been dropped. Three Koli leaders who have been inducted are not influential beyond their own seats. Similarly, tribal representatives in the council are also relative lightweights. The BJP may be raising a new leadership for the party among different communities and regions to tackle the many barriers in its path to yet another Assembly victory, and beyond. Some leaders sidelined in the past by the party tried to revolt, but few survived eventually. The change of guard in Gujarat and the composition of the new Council of Ministers suggest that the party leaders in the State have little autonomy or control over their own fate. The blueprint of the BJP’s Gujarat strategy is firmly in the control of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. They draw their strength considerably from their control of the party’s Gujarat government. The new council is indebted to the central leadership, at least to begin with. The question is whether they can marshal enough support for the BJP’s continuing dominance in a State that is critical for its national hegemony.

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Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 2:28:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/junior-council-on-bjp-building-of-new-leadership-in-gujarat/article36598585.ece

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