The BJP leadership has once again stumped speculators with its choice of chief minister, this time, in Gujarat, going with first-time MLA Bhupendra Patel over other strong contenders.
Patel will succeed Vijay Rupani, who had stepped down as Chief Minister of Gujarat a few days back, about 15 months before the state goes for assembly elections.
He is known to be a close associate of former chief minister Anandiben Patel and had won the 2017 elections from Ghatlodia seat, held earlier by the latter.
His name was announced at the legislature party meeting by Rupani where the names of two Union Ministers from Gujarat, Mansukh Mandaviya and Parshottam Rupala, controversial Lakshadweep administrator Praful Khoda Patel, and state agriculture minister RC Faldu were doing the rounds.
Patel, an engineer by profession, was part of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority.
Having a long association with the RSS, BJP’s mentor, Patel’s political career is thin and he also has no criminal record, according to a report in the Hindustan Times.
Belonging to the Patidar (Patels) community, his choice as the CM of Gujarat is seen as a move that would help woo the politically significant community and win the Gujarat elections. The Patidars have been unhappy with Rupani, especially with this government’s handling of the coronavirus in the state.
An RSS survey, saying that BJP had slim chances of winning the elections with Rupani as chief minister, is also said to have played a role in his ouster.
Rupani had met the senior leadership of BJP in Delhi before quitting the post.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah took to Twitter to congratulate Bhupendra Patel.
मुझे विश्वास है कि @narendramodi जी के मार्गदर्शन व आपके नेतृत्व में प्रदेश की अनवरत विकास यात्रा को नई ऊर्जा व गति मिलेगी और गुजरात सुशासन व जनकल्याण में निरंतर अग्रणी बना रहेगा।
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) September 12, 2021
“Hearty congratulations and best wishes to Bhupendra Patel on being elected the leader of the BJP’s legislature unit. I’m confident that under the guidance of Narendra Modi and your leadership, Gujarat’s development journey will get a new energy and momentum and the state shall continue to be a leader in good governance and public welfare,” Shah tweeted.