[Gujarat BJP President R C Faldu and other leaders garland Anandiben Patel. (File Photo)]
Ahmedabad: Worried over the unexpected defeat the saffron party faced in the recently concluded Gujarat local bodies elections, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) top leadership comprising Prime Minister Modi and BJP Chief Amit Shah have decided to axe State Chief Minister Anandiben Patel and Party President Ranchhodbhai Chhanabhai Faldu, it is reliably learnt.
According to the party sources in Ahmedabad, Patel and Faldu, both summoned to New Delhi after the results of the local bodies elections were announced on December 02, have been informed that they are in the office only till Makar Sankranti.
“Both of them have been clearly told that their days in their respective offices are numbered, and they will no longer be holding the two key posts in the party bastion Gujarat after January 14”, the sources said.
The decision to replace Patel and Faldu follows the BJP’s dismal performance in the November 2015 local bodies elections. Though the party has been able to retain six municipal corporations that went to polls on November 26, it did so with reduced strength and numbers.
Besides Congress comeback in urban Gujarat, what worried the BJP most is its unexpected defeat in rural areas of the state. A glance at the result shows that the BJP, which earlier controlled 30 of 31 district panchayats, retained only six. The Congress bagged 21 and other parties four.
Worst, the Congress bagged the taluka and district panchayats of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's native village of Vadnagar, Chief Minister Anandiben Patel's Visnagar and the No.2 in her cabinet, Health Minister Nitin Patel's Kadi, which all figure in Mehsana district in north Gujarat, from where the Patidar reservation agitation began. As for the 230 taluka (tehsil) panchayats, out of 190 the BJP had earlier, the party won 73 and the Congress in 132.
Sources said the decision to sack the two senior leaders of the BJP from their respective posts has already been taken. But, its implementation is delayed till January 14 as the day coincides with Makar Sankranti, and it is considered inauspicious to take important decisions ahead of the important Gujarati festival.
Sources also said that State Chief Minister Anandiben Patel has been advised to refrain from taking any major decision during these days.
Party sources also said that Prime Minister Modi’s close aide and Gujarat BJP's organizational secretary Bhikhubhai Dalsania has emerged as the front runner for the post of chief minister after Anandiben Patel’s departure. Dalsania was in the race for the top post in 2014 also when Modi resigned as Gujarat Chief Minister and became prime minister.
Party sources also said that Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, now Education Minister in Anandiben Patel cabinet, is set to replace RC Faldu as Gujarat State BJP President.