When former Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel said that she had quit state's top post because she was approaching the age of 75, no many believed her. After all, she was chosen by none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi to succeed him when he moved from Gandhinagar to Delhi in 2014.
The reason for disbelieving her was simple – During her term one crisis after another had gripped BJP's citadel and the party's top brass probably feared that Anandiben was fast losing grip over things. To be noted is the fact that she offered to step down on the day Ahmedabad saw massive protests by Dalits. The images of Dalits being flogged by a group of so-called cow vigilantes in Una village of Gir Somnath and the ensuing bandhs and arson that followed was denting the image of the saffron party so much that PM Modi had to issue a statement himself and say that before attacking his Dalit brothers, people should shoot him first.
There have been other incidents too. As per a leading Daily, crime against Dalits rose to 19 percent in Gujarat in 2014. To be noted is the fact that Dalits had formed a formidable coalition which had helped BJP's successive electoral wins in the state. They are said to be nearly seven percent of Gujarat's population. Earlier they used to be Congress supporters but shifted towards the BJP in the 90s. So, when it became crystal clear that things were not as smooth in PM Modi's state as he had left them, the party had to act fast. After all, apart from the Congress, Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party were knocking at the door.
Before Una, Gujarat also saw the Hardik Patel-led Patidar agitation. It was said then too that Anandiben had failed to tackle the situation properly, giving BJP's rivals in the state enough ammunition to attack the party. Also to be noted is the fact that Patidars have been crucial to the BJP vote bank in Gujarat and have helped the party to chip away at the traditional KHAM alliance of the Congress.
Thus, some may say that Assembly elections are still many months away but nonetheless, incumbent CM Vijay Rupani has the arduous task of getting the BJP back on track if it had somewhat meandered before Gujarat goes to the polls at the end of 2017. Needless to say any setback in Gujarat will be a personal setback for PM Modi and he wouldn't want that going into the 2019 General Elections.