Speculation on Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel's removal gained sudden momentum on Monday when she called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi while her supposed replacement Nitin Patel met BJP president Amit Shah in Delhi.The party' state unit however denied any such move, blaming the Congress for spreading "misinformation".Hectic discussions amid numerous meetings have been held in the BJP circles for some time now to discuss a change of guard in Modi's home state, much ahead of the 2017 assembly elections, party sources said.The buzz, emerging from these meetings, is that Anandiben, the first woman chief minister of Gujarat, might be sent to Punjab or Haryana as a governor and most senior state cabinet minister Nitin Patel appointed in her place.
The names of state BJP president Vijay Rupani, national BJP vice president Purshottam Rupala and Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama are also doing the rounds.A close confidante of Modi for nearly three decades, Anandiben was handpicked by him as chief minister when he became the prime minister.Anandiben is being blamed for mishandling of the nine-month-old Patidar agitation for reservation in government jobs and educational institutions. This led to the Bharatiya Janata Party's debacle in the November-December local body elections. Another reason being cited is an alleged land scam, involving a firm in which her daughter Anar Patel is a partner, in which the state government allotted land at throwaway prices. Gujarat BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya, meanwhile, told IANS that all these were sheer rumours.
"The Congress has been feeding this misinformation when the ruling party is planning massive celebrations to mark Narendrabhai's and Anandiben's completion of two years in office. Where is the question of a change of guard," he asked.Similarly, Nitin Patel told reporters on arriving from Delhi that he was not aware of any such move or discussions within the party to remove Anandiben and make him the chief minister.For the record, the chief minister visited Delhi to discuss with Modi the water crisis in the state. It was also attended by government officials from Gujarat and the Prime Minister's Office. Nitin Patel, meanwhile, was among the state health ministers with whom union Health Minister J.P. Nadda held discussions over the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test.