With Gujarat on BJP's radar, Amit Shah appoints Bhupender Yadav as party's in charge of state

Rajya Sabha MP and BJP in-charge in Bihar, Bhupender Yadav, on Tuesday replaced Dinesh Sharma as in charge of Gujarat "with immediate effect".

From Uttar Pradesh, BJP's focus now shifts to Gujarat - the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah. With Assembly elections in the state due later this year, the ruling BJP, without taking any chances, has already started making moves in that direction.

On Tuesday, Amit Shah appointed party's national general secretary Bhupender Yadav as in charge of Gujarat "with immediate effect". Yadav replaces Dinesh Sharma, who has become deputy chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.

Bhupender Yadav is a Rajya Sabha MP and party's in charge also of Bihar. Besides coming from the OBC community, Yadav hails from neighbouring Rajasthan. He has been a key organisation leader in the ruling party, playing an important role in most of the recent elections, including UP.

ORGANISATIONAL OVERHAULING

Earlier on April 5, BJP formed its new state parliamentary board and various other committees. The state parliamentary board comprises 14 members, including state party chief Jitubhai Vaghani, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and his deputy Nitin Patel.

Former chief minister Anandiben Patel, Union Minister Parshottam Rupala, former state party chief RC Faldu and Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama are also members of the board which would scrutinise and shortlist probable candidates for the Assembly elections.

BJP's election manifesto committee consisting of 14 members has also been constituted. It includes Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja, Health Minister Shankar Chaudhary, party spokesperson Bharat Pandya and former Cabinet minister Jaynarayan Vyas.

CHANGES IN GOVERNMENT

In fact, the party's preparations for elections in Gujarat had started a year back when it replaced Anandiben Patel with Rupani as the state chief minister. Under Anandiben, who had succeeded Narendra Modi as the chief minister, Gujarat became unstable. Power seemed to be slipping out of BJP's hands.

First it was the violent Patidar agitation led by 23-year-old Hardik Patel in 2015. Despite being a Patel herself, Anandiben failed to win over her community people who comprise BJP's strongest votebank. Anandiben also could not wield the same grip on bureaucracy which Narendra Modi as chief minister was known for doing. Her rule also saw internal squabble in the party, which was under control during Modi's rule.

In July 2016, brutal thrashing of four Dalits in Una for skinning a dead cow led to a strong and widespread protest. Anandiben failed to contain the Dalit agitation as well. Amidst this scenario, she was replaced by Rupani on August 7 with Nnitin Patel as the deputy chief minister.

WINNING OVER PATIDARS

Besides the organisational changes, BJP has also got down to winning back the Patidars. In a symbolic gesture to win back the Patidars, PM Narendra Modi took a sought to woo back the community which constitutes 12 per cent of the state's population. He inaugurated Kiran Multi-Speciality Hospital constructed by a trust dominated by the Patidars in Surat on April 17.

In the days to come, BJP is likely to take more steps to wean back the Patidars who have been demanding reservation in government jobs and educational institutions. With these moves, BJP seeks to retain power in the crucial state for the fifth consecutive term since 1998.

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