Patel to take oath as Gujarat CM today Meets Governor Acharya Devvrat and stakes claim to form Government
FIRST-TERM MLA Bhupendra Patel will be the new Chief Minister of Gujarat. Patel (59) was unanimously elected BJP legislature party leader here on Sunday. He will be sworn in as the Chief Minister on Monday, State BJP chief C R Patil said. The proposal to elect him the legislature party leader was moved by CM Vijay Rupani, whose resignation on Saturday, over a year ahead of the State Assembly polls, surprised many political observers. Most of the 112 MLAs of the party in the 182-member Assembly were present at the meeting, BJP sources said. Soon after the meeting, Patel, accompanied by senior BJP leaders, met Governor Acharya Devvrat at the Raj Bhawan. Patel presented a letter to form the Government, which was accepted by the Governor, the sources said. In Monday’s swearing-in ceremony, only Patel will take oath and other Ministers will be inducted later, they said.
Patel’s name was not in the long list of probables being discussed in State political circles and he emerged as the dark horse, a political observer said. A soft-spoken leader, Patel has had a meteoric rise in State politics, starting at the municipality level and on way to becoming the CM in his first term as an MLA. He contested his maiden Assembly election from Ghatlodia constituency in Ahmedabad in 2017 and won by over 1.17 lakh votes, the highest victory margin in the State during that election. Fondly called ‘Dada’ by many (Rupani is called ‘Bhai’), Patel is considered close to former Gujarat Chief Minister and present Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel. His Assembly constituency is part of the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat represented by Union Minister Amit Shah. He holds a diploma in civil engineering, always has a smiling face and is well-connected to the grassroots, a party worker said.
Talking to the media after his election as the BJP legislature party leader, Patel thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Shah and BJP President J P Nadda for placing their trust in him. On his mentor Anandiben Patel, Patel said he is glad to have her blessings. There has been a lot of development work during Rupani’s tenure as CM and he intends to take it forward, Patel said. Patil said Patel’s work at the grass root-level, his hold on the cooperative sector, association with party workers and administrative abilities were among the factors that led to his elevation. In a tweet, Shah congratulated Bhupendra Patel, adding he is confident that the CM-designate will work on the path of development under Modi’s leadership. BJP’s central observers Narendra Singh Tomar and Prahlad Joshi and party general secretary Tarun Chaug were present at the legislature party meet.
There was talk that Praful Khoda Patel, administrator of the union territories of Lakshadweep and Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu and Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Health Minister, were among the contenders. Praful Patel, like Bhupendra Patel, belongs to the influential Patel community, while Mandaviya is from Patidar community. Rupani (65) on Saturday resigned from the post. It was not clear what prompted the development in Modi’s home State where elections to the 182-member Assembly are due in December 2022. Rupani, the fourth Chief Minister to demit office in BJP-ruled States during the coronavirus pandemic, was sworn in as Chief Minister – his second stint as CM - in December 2017. He completed five years in office on August 7 this year. Hours before the legislature party meeting, Deputy CM Nitin Patel said the new leader “will have to be popular, strong, experienced, and the one who is known and acceptable to all”. Nitin Patel, whose name was doing the rounds for the top post in the State, had told reporters that the BJP’s central leadership will decide on the new Chief Minister.