Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel has resigned, against the backdrop of mounting Dalit protests in the state. She announced her decision in a Facebook post written in Gujarati.
BJP President Amit Shah said the resignation will be considered by the party's parliamentary board.
Patel, who is going to be 75 years old in November, said her party needs a fresh face before next year's assembly polls in the state. Her leaving office two months in advance, she believes, will give the new incumbent sufficient time to prepare to take over from her.
In recent months, Patel's government has come under fire for failing to protect Dalits in the state from attacks by self-styled 'gau-rakshaks' or cow protectors. Last year, following the Patidar community's protest against the arrest of its leader, Hardik Patel, and its demand for reservation, the BJP had lost local bodies' elections for the first time in a decade.
Thanking the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for letting her work in various organisational roles for the past 30 years, Patel singled out Prime Minister Narendra Modi for praise, calling him "visionary and hard-working". Excerpts from her post in our translation:
For the last 18 years, I have worked under various departments in the government, constantly trying to bring new changes and citizen-centric schemes by implementing them with simplicity and transparency.... In May 2014, Narendra Modi and the party leadership gave me the opportunity to be the first woman CM of Gujarat. I count that as a proud moment for all Gujarati Women.
Taking over from Narendra Modi, who spent 12 years as CM, was as hard as counting the stars in the sky. But I am proud that I have not left any stone unturned in adding to the progress made by him.
I joined the BJP because I was inspired by the ideology, doctrines, and the discipline of the party and I follow them till date. In the past few years, the party has created a new trend, with leaders over the age of 75 resigning voluntarily. This sets an example and provides an opportunity for the next generation. I am also completing 75 years in November, but I have requested the party to let me retire two months earlier. In January 2017, the Vibrant Gujarat Summit will take place, for which the next CM should have ample time. Also, the Gujarat elections are going to be held at the end of 2017, which gives the party enough time to prepare.
Patel has also submitted her resignation to Gujarat BJP president Vijay Rupani, who is expected to take over from her. BJP President Amit Shah said he will place her letter before a Parliamentary Board, which will take the final decision.
The Congress said Patel's resignation was "overdue" and accused the BJP leadership of trying to protect her in spite of the "growing unrest" among Dalits and the Patidar community over her handling of issues related to them.
All India Congress Committee General Secretary, in-charge of Gujarat, Gurudas Kamat also said if she is made a governor of any state or accommodated into the Union cabinet, it will amount to rubbing salt on the wounds of Dalits and the Patidar community.
Arvind Kejriwal, leader of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), tweeted that Patel's resignation was a victory for AAP, which has been fighting corruption in Gujarat.
(Written with PTI reports)
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