Rahul Gandhi went on the offensive on Tuesday and blamed the 13-year tenure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the chief minister of Gujarat for the turmoil that the state is witnessing. He said that Anandiben Patel, who resigned as the Gujarat chief minister on Monday, was only a "scapegoat."
"13 years of Modi rule, not 2 years of Anandiben are responsible for Gujarat burning. Sacrificing the scapegoat won't save the BJP," the Congress leader tweeted on Tuesday.
Patel on Monday said that she had informed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) two months ago about stepping down before the Gujarat Assembly elections in 2017. The party needs a fresh face, she said, as she was 75 years old. Patel had become the chief minister in 2014 after Modi took the prime ministerial position.
The resignation comes in the wake of a string of protests in the state against atrocities on Dalits. Trouble began in the state last year when the Patidar community led by Hardik Patel conducted violent protests across the state to seek reservation in jobs and education, which led to damage to government property and loss of life. The way the Gujarat chief minister handled the situation rankled the community after at least 11 people were killed in the protests.
The repercussions were felt in the panchayat and municipal corporation elections as the miffed community, which makes up at least 14 percent of the state population, did not rally behind the BJP.
Recently, there was furore in Parliament and outside after seven members of a Dalit family were allegedly beaten up by a group of cow protection vigilantes for cutting a dead cow in Una town of Gir Somnath district of Gujarat.
"The accused came in a white car and asked why we were slaughtering the cow. I told them that the cow was dead and that we were merely removing its skin. But they started abusing us and attacked us with iron pipes, sticks and a knife with which we were removing the skin of the carcass," Vashram, one of the victim's, said in his complaint.
In retaliation, Dalits in Gujarat have refused to dispose animal carcasses, which has been a profession taken up by them for generations.
In model Gujarat, over 15,500 cases of atrocities were lodged and Dalits kicked out from 55 villages. Why is PM Narendra Modi silent on these atrocities. Why has he not come to share our pain," Jignesh Mevani, the convener of Una Dalit Atyachar Ladat Samiti, said.
Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) took credit for Patel's resignation on Monday night.
AAP growing exponentially in Gujarat, Anandiben Patel forced to resign due to her failure to politically take on AAP," the party tweeted on Monday.
They said that despite Patel saying that she would fight elections in 2017, she resigned after Arvind Kejriwal visited the state twice.
Anandiben Patel resigns on Facebook, vindication of AAP's stance of her being responsible for total governance failure#BJPScaredOfAAPinGuj
â€” Aam Aadmi Party- AAP (@AamAadmiParty) August 1, 2016