Whisper campaign to malign Rupani family falls flat

CM to probe ‘conspiracy’ angle

Gandhinagar: The political atmosphere within the Gujarat BJP has suddenly warmed up with a quiet whisper campaign launched against Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, in a section of local media, who faces a crucial assembly election over two years from now, in the backdrop of startling electoral setbacks in the recent by-elections in the State.

According to highly placed sources, Vijay Rupani has taken a serious note of an ongoing “malicious campaign” against him and his family, by “vested interests”, being engineered in New Delhi and Gujarat by a few “disgruntled” small-time BJP leaders.

Rupani is learnt to have asked his intelligence system to look into the “conspiracy angle”, while the CM is also likely to have some valuable “input’ on this sensitive issue from a trusted KK, who, over the years, has masterminded the art of “discovering and handling” such alleged political conspiracies. The role of a minister of state in the Union cabinet, who belongs to Gujarat and appears to be keen to be a Rupani successor, is also under lens. 

Matters have come to so much pass that Rupani’s low profile wife Anjali Rupani is being dragged into a controversy alleging that she is interfering in the day-to-day governance of the Chief Minister and also influencing the decision-making process of Rupani government, especially in matters of postings and transfers of a few IAS-IPS officers on certain key positions.
It is also being circulated that CM’s wife Anjali is working on the “pattern” of Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis’s wife Amrita Fadnavis, who was reported to be an “influencing factor” in her CM husband’s policy decisions and governance.

However, the Rupani camp strongly denies any of his family member’s (including his wife) interference in the working of his government, which is functioning on a completely transparent and responsive model.
Moreover, there is no comparison in the lifestyle of Amrita Fadnavis and Anjali Rupani, as the former happens to be a “celebrity” in Mumbai, whereas Anjali is only a housewife. However, in her home town Rajkot, she also plays the role of an active BJP and RSS worker and is normally instrumental in promoting Mahila-Morcha activities.

In Gujarat political circles, this ongoing campaign against the Rupani family is being considered by political observers as part of a long term “strategy” to de-stabilise a stable Rupani government. In fact, besides gossip mongering about a possible change of guard in Gandhinagar within certain sections of the party and outside, there is no concrete evidence at New Delhi or Ahmedabad to substantiate this theory.

However, the Rupani camp maintains that a soft spoken and fairly popular Rupani is an obedient BJP soldier (especially of Modi and Shah) and will not take even a minute to quit, once he is asked to do so.  

In the present political scenario, Gujarat BJP’s caste equations also justify a non-Patidar CM’s continuance, where the State already has four Patidars in a row on coveted positions, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, State BJP President Jitu Vaghani and Ministers of State in the Union Cabinet Mansukh Mandavia, who holds the siginificant charge of shipping, and Parshottam Rupala, handling Agriculture.  

At this juncture, political observers recall the former lady Chief Minister Anandiben’s tenure, when in a similar way, she was accused of allowing her daughter Anar Patel to run the state administration by proxy remote control and securing some major land allotment favours from her mother’s government.  But in Rupani’s case, there are no specific corruption charges against the Chief Minister or his wife and only an “atmosphere” is being created to discredit the Rupani family.

A senior cabinet minister says that Rupani’s opponents, within the party and the government, have failed to identify and establish any corruption charge against the Chief Minister himself, so, now they are trying to bring his wife at the centre-stage of some controversy. 

There is already a propaganda in bureaucratic and political circles at Gandhinagar saying that the new Chief Secretary, Anil Mukim, has been asked by New Delhi to keep a tab on an alleged interference of Rupani family in the state’s administration, but very few would believe this given Mukim’s reputation of being a “rule book” officer and seldom plays any direct or indirect political or intelligence role. Moreover, this entire “sector” is left to a discrete and knowledgeable K Kailashnathan, who has just got an extension as the Chief Principal Secretary to the CM with his term being made coterminous with that of Rupani till 2022. However, the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister’s reaction, who closely watch Gujarat, is yet not known. People close to Modi and Shah at Ahmedabad are also maintaining a discreet silence on this sensitive issue.