At the helm in Gujarat

Vijay Rupani has been re-elected Chief Minister of Gujarat and Nitin Patel remains his deputy. The two took over charge of the administration in the state last year as Anandiban Patel resigned from the Chief Ministership. He was hemmed in by a combination of hostile forces such as the Patidar agitation, the Una Dalit flogging incident and the BJP’s weakening grip over the state. Rupani had taken over at a time when the situation was grim for the party. However, the BJP won in the recent Assembly polls in the state though the opposition proved formidable. Rupani and Patel both won their seats in constituencies which was not smooth sailing. Rupani’s equation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi is said to be strong and his relations with the party president Amit Shah are also quite friendly. What makes Rupani all the more acceptable is that his manners are mild which should be an asset in the tough Gujarat politics.

Rupani has formidable challenges ahead of him in his hot seat. The BJP’s seat share in the Assembly has come down from 115 to 99. A major portion of the influential Patidar community has gone away from the BJP following the agitation mounted by Hardik Patil. The much advertised Gujarat model does not seem to have gone down well and needs refashioning. The rural-agrarian crisis in the state continues to be a threat. Rupani needs a free hand to promote agriculture and create job opportunities for local youth. The BJP has to gear itself for the Parliamentary election in 2022 especially in Narendra Modi’s home state.