After a week of protests following the public beating of four Dalits (also known as "untouchables) for skinning a dead cow, which Hindus revere as holy, the chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat has resigned.
Anandiben Patel, who took over as CM after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi vacated the position, posted her letter of resignation on Facebook. In it, she asked the BJP top brass to relieve her of her post as she was soon going to turn 75.
Patel had come in for critcism for her handling of the fallout from the public beating of the Dalits. And under her leadership, the BJP has for the first time in the post-Narendra Modi era had to put up with a tough challenge from its opponents in the state.
Patel, who will turn 75 on November 21 and who been a minister in the BJP government since 1998 and CM since 2014, said in her post-cum-resignation letter that the BJP needed a fresh face in the state before the elections next year.
"For the last some time there has been a tradition in the party that those who attain the age of 75, voluntarily retires from the post. I will attain the age of 75 in November," she said. "Two months ago I had requested the party to relieve me from the post and today also through this letter, I request the party to relieve me of the post," she added.
"I am asking the party to relieve me two months in advance as the new chief minister will require the time to work, when the state is going to face elections in 2017 and an important event like Vibrant Gujarat Summit to be held in January," Patel said. "It (the rule of 75) is a good thing and it will give a chance to young leaders to come up," she added.
Elections in the state are due in the second half of 2017. The unwritten convention in the party in recent times, set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been that people quit their posts when they turn 75.
Patel has had to deal a number of recent upsets. The BJP fared badly in the rural civic bodies poll of December 2015 and the opposition Congress made gains at the cost of the ruling party.
She also had to deal with the fierce Patel community quota agitation, one of the factors which contributed to the BJP losing in the rural local bodies poll. The BJP though retained its hold over the urban areas.
The Dalit uprising after the Una public beating incident also dented the image of the party.
(WION with inputs from PTI)