BJP has named Vijay Rupani as the next Chief Minister of Gujarat. The 60-year-old state unit chief of the BJP succeeds Anandiben Patel, who resigned early this week citing her advancing age and the need for a fresh face to steer BJP’s chariot in assembly polls due late next year. The ruling party also named another strongman and current state Health Minister Nitin Patel as the Deputy CM of Gujarat.
According to media speculations, Nitin Patel was tipped to be the front runner to succeed Anandiben Patel as Gujarat CM but by the evening it was clear that Vijay Rupani is ahead in the race.
The decision was arrived at the BJP legislature party meeting in Ahmedabad, which was called to elect the next leader. BJP chief Amit Shah, who was also at Ahmedabad to oversee the meeting, held intense deliberations with party leaders to finalise the new chief minister.
Among others, Shah met state BJP in-charge Dinesh Sharma, national joint general secretary (organisation) V Satish, party treasurer Surendra Patel, education minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama and former state BJP chief R C Faldu.
Earlier, the BJP had rebuffed the speculations of Amit Shah taking over as the Chief Minister of his home state. Instead the party leaders announced that the BJP “needs” him more at the national level.
Anandiben Patel, who will turn 75 in November, hung her boots on August 1, citing her age — BJP’s undeclared cut-off mark — as the reason behind her decision. Incidentally, her resignation decision came at a time when the ruling party is faced with heat over the Dalit unrest and Patidar agitation in its stronghold for years.
“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,” she had said announcing her decision to quit.
Patidar agitation had led to a large scale protest last year resulting in over 10 persons killed in the clashes with state police.
And the recent incident of public flogging of Dalit youth by the cow vigilante group in Una last month had given way to a massive Dalit community unrest. Seeking dignity, empowerment and justice, the community has been holding series of protest over the issue.
In a related development, the state government suffered a set-back on Thursday after Gujarat High Court quashed the ordinance providing 10 per cent quota for the economically backward among the unreserved category. The ordinance was promulgated by erstwhile CM Anandiben Patel-led government to pacify the agitating Patidar community.