Updated: September 13, 2021 1:44:56 am
Incessant rain lashed Rajkot during the first half of the day on Sunday, when Prakash Society stood quiet and deserted, even as the state waited with bated breath to know the successor of Vijay Rupani, the most prominent resident of this residential colony.
The storm drenched a BJP flag hoisted at the chief minister’s personal residence and forced neighbours to remain indoors. Occasional passers-by barely had time to cast glances at a Rangoon creeper-covered small gate to the CM’s house. Doors of most of the houses in this middle-class neighbourhood on the posh Nirmala Convent Road were shut.
“Sir (Vijay Rupani) has not come here in a long while. But bahen (Rupani’s wife Anjali) comes often. She was here till Tuesday and left that morning… no one from the family has come here since,” one of the two policemen guarding the CM’s residence said while seeking shelter in the porch of the row-house as it poured heavily.
“A typical Jain, he never meant harm to anyone nor did he commit any wrongs. But big boys have made their decision and he has to leave. This is not just a loss for our society or Rajkot, but for the entire state. A good man is being shown the door,” said Nayan Shah, an Ayurveda practitioner and Rupani’s next-door neighbour for 30 years.
“Politicians from north and south Gujarat regions could never digest the fact that a man from Saurashtra had become the CM. Similar was the case when Keshubhai Patel became CM,” Shah, 68, said.
Before Rupani became the CM, it was normal for the Rupanis and the Shahs to occasionally meet over breakfast despite their hectic schedule. The Shahs have stored in their mobile phones photos of the CM attending their grandson’s birthday do a couple of years ago.
“His simplicity can be gauged from the fact that in the past five years he never made the policemen ask anyone to remove a scooter or bike from the street,” Shah said, adding he dialled Rupani on Sunday morning for a “casual conversation”.
“He must be feeling like a student who is made to believe that he has done poorly in an examination. So, I didn’t broach the subject of his resignation. That is a subject to be discussed some other day,” said Shah.
Vishal Sarvaiya, who lives across the street from Rupani’s house, is concerned whether Rupani’s exit would affect the development of Rajkot. “It was obvious that he had a soft corner for Rajkot. But now, I am afraid, development of the city will be affected,” 37-year-old Sarvaiya, a businessman, said.
Shah’s wife Kiran, who is secretary of BJP’s Mahila Morcha for Ward No.10 in Rajkot, said, “I wish they had been a little more considerate. It was Paryushan (the holy period for followers of Jainism). But I appreciate the way the BJP functions.”
Shah’s daughter Meenal was quick to enlist infrastructure projects that were launched in Rajkot during Rupani’s tenure as CM. “New airport, bus port, riverfront, AIIMS. Rajkot was getting the attention it deserved when he was the CM,” she said.
The tranquillity continued even as rain abated later in the afternoon and the BJP announced Bhupendra Patel, an MLA from Ghatlodia in Ahmedabad, as Rupani’s successor. “Rupani is a committed partyman. Whether he was given any post or not, he kept working for the party. He remains committed to the BJP even after stepping down as CM. This is the reason there is no assembly of any aggrieved supporters at his home today. How many such people are there in the state these days,” Shah said.
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