The induction of three leaders from Gujarat in the Union Council of Ministers and the dropping of two is a telling story of the internal politics of Gandhinagar.
If allocation of ministry to a “loyalist” is a criteria, it doesn’t apply to Parshottam Rupala, BJP Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat. He is neither a Narendra Modi loyalist nor one of Amit Shah. The oldest active member of the Gujarat BJP since 1980, Rupala, a Kadva Patel, appears to have been rewarded purely on merit.
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A born orator who draws large crowds, he was a top organiser in the BJP long before the Modi-Shah combine came in. One reason why he has been inducted is also to pacify his camp because he has been a chief minister aspirant. Within the party, he has been vocal in his criticism of Chief Minister Anandiben Patel’s administration.
Handling the situation deftly, the Prime Minister Modi has not only given Rupala a Rajya Sabha berth but also a ministerial job — MoS for Agriculture, Farmer Welfare and Panchayati Raj. Now, he has been told to work in Gujarat to help the BJP control the Patel agitation.
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On the other hand, Mansukh Mandavia, also brought to the Centre, is an Anandiben loyalist. She wanted him as Gujarat BJP president but Shah gave the job to Vijay Rupani. Mandavia was also in the list of CM aspirants.
The exit of MoS Tribal Affairs Mansukhbhai Vasava, MP from Bharuch, is also being attributed to his letters to Anandiben Patel, complaining about the poor administration in his constituency. In one of the letters, he threatened to resign if implementation of welfare programmes did not improve. His supporters claim that Vasava will soon leave the BJP to fight for tribal rights and Bhilistan, a separate state for Bhils of Gujarat.
Given the crucial tribal votes in the state, Jaswantsinh Bhabhor, tribal leader from Dahod, has been entrusted the portfolio Vasava vacated. This is seen as a counter to the strong Congress presence in Dahod.