Vijay Rupani resigned as Gujarat Chief Minister Saturday becoming the fourth BJP chief minister to be axed this year after BS Yediyurappa in Karnataka, and Tirath Singh Rawat and Trivendra Singh Rawat in Uttarakhand. After submitting his resignation in Raj Bhavan, Rupani said that he has been allowed to serve the state for five years and that there is a tradition within the BJP that responsibilities of party workers change time to time.

“In BJP, there has been a tradition that responsibilities of party workers change from time to time. I will be ready to take whatever responsibility that the party will give me in the future,” Rupani told reporters. While speculations about a potential change of guard were doing the rounds for a while in Gujarat, the exact reasons for Vijay Rupani’s resignation remain unclear.

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The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Gujarat and the resultant economic as well as social distress may have had a role to play in Vijay Rupani’s exit, PTI reported citing sources. Political observers in Gujarat say that Rupani’s image as a soft-spoken person “weak” chief minister allowed bureaucrats to overrule the political leadership of Gujarat, The Times Of India reported.

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Vijay Rupani completed five years as chief minister of Gujarat this August. Rupani’s resignation within one year of Gujarat going to polls signifies a change in BJP’s style of functioning ahead of the assembly elections next year.

Further, the fact that only last month BJP state president CR Paatil said that the party will contest next year’s assembly polls under the leadership of Vijay Rupani and Nitin Patel and now Rupani is no longer leading Gujarat shows that the party is re-thinking its strategy before going into the polls.

While who will succeed Vijay Rupani still remains to be revealed, the next few days promise an action-filled reorientation of BJP’s Gujarat assembly election plans.