New Delhi: Is 75 years the official retirement age in formal politics? Or is it so only for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)? Soon after coming to power in May 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced the rule that leaders above 75 should not hold any administrative post in Central or state governments.

On Monday, Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel, 74, decided to offer her resignation to party leaders. Patel will turn 75 in November.

Patel is only the second BJP leader to vacate her office because of the age bar. Last month Union minister for minority affairs Najma A. Heptulla resigned, after she turned 76 in April.

“It seems 75 is the new official voluntary retirement age for BJP leaders," said Mumbai-based political analyst Jai Mrug.

Modi’s decision not to induct ministers above 75 has the nod from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological arm of the BJP. When the BJP won the 2014 general elections, the party decided to form the Margdarshak Mandal, with former deputy prime minister L.K. Advani and former Union minister Murli Manohar Joshi as its members. At the time, BJP leaders above the age bar of 75 were not inducted in any administrative post. Former finance minister Yashwant Sinha, too, was not inducted in the government because of the age restriction.

Interestingly, Kalraj Mishra, the Union minister for micro, small and medium enterprises, also turned 75 in July, but so far he has not been asked to step down. A senior BJP leader pointed out that Mishra is expected to play a crucial role in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.

“The decision to replace sitting chief ministers has never helped the BJP. It didn’t help in Karnataka where B.S. Yeddyurappa was replaced, the same was the case in Delhi when Madan Lal Khurana was replaced and also in Uttar Pradesh when chief ministers were replaced by BJP leadership. Narendra Modi and Shivraj Singh Chouhan are the only two exceptions who came to power after replacing a chief minister and won elections for the party," Mrug added.

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