Smriti Irani to become next Gujarat CM?

New Delhi/ Ahmedabad, December 19: After the announcements of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh election results, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP)  high-level decision-making body on Monday evening held in New Delhi, dispatched two teams with the task of selecting new chief minister in the respective states.

There are also media reports and rumours doing the rounds that the current Textiles and I&B Minister Smriti Irani may be asked to don the new role of the Chief Minister of Gujarat, in the wake of the poor performance by the party in the rural areas. There is a feeling within the party rank and file that the current leadership headed by  Vijay Rupani was not able to win people’s confidence.

“This is BJP where anything can happen, like we sprang surprise in presidential elections. In congress ‘high command’ is final authority. Difference is, BJP high command will check his/her ability before zeroing on final name. It can be one of the  MLAs or someone from outside,” said a BJP insider to India Live Today.

Another source though sounded confident of Modi-Shah zeroing on Smriti Irani. “She has campaigned in Gujarat and understands the psyche of the region. But most important is, she has worked with Modi at centre and knows what they expect of her. She is dynamic and development-oriented like Modi,” said the BJP source. Moreover, Vijay Rupani and Nitin Patel faced public and party anger for not able to handle reservation movements initiated by Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani.
“Rupani and Nitinbhai may have won but one can’t deny that it was their miscalculations that resulted in Congress getting stronger with Hardik and Alpesh extending helping hand. Also, Iraniji has the ability to counter any kind of criticism and get solution. And party feels, she will be able to halt the three leaders, who are in streets against the BJP government,” the source explained.

Despite Vijay Rupani beating his Congress rival Indranil Rajguru in Rajkot West, the national leadership might also opt to appoint a new CM, as the party leadership thinks that it was the campaign of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which saved the saffron party from a shameful defeat. The narrow margin victory in many constituencies in Gujarat also is a worrying factor for the BJP.

Also, the party estimates that the poll outcome saw a steep fall in the number of seats BJP managed to win as compared to 2012, nearly a loss of 20 seats, and the Congress party was able to increase their tally from 61 to 80.

Another factor that may prompt the team led by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who has been dispatched to Gandhinagar for heading the selection process may give thrust to the fact that five sitting ministers including Shankar Choudhary from Vav constituency.

Speaker Ramanlal Vora also lost from Dasada. Moreover, victory margins like CK Raolji winning by 242 votes in Godhra or Saurabh Patel’s 400-vote win in Botad reflects how tough it was for the ruling party.

BJP mustered 47/75 seats from Central and South Gujarat. It proved handy in the final tally as it helped Modi-Shah to consolidate BJP’s position in Vithhalbhai Patel Bhawan, Gandhinagar, which otherwise looked on the slippery pitch. BJP managed to surpass magical 92-seat mark and end with 99 seats.