Senior BJP leader Bhupendra Patel — known to be a protege of former Chief Minister Anandiben Patel — will succeed Vijay Rupani as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. While he was elected the leader of the legislature party after a meeting, it is believed that the he was the choice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister Amit Shah.
Mr Rupani, who was present on the occasion, endorsed the new Chief Minister, saying the party will “successfully contest the polls” under his leadership. Elections in Gujarat are due next year.
Mr Patel, the MLA from Ghatlodia seat, held earlier by Anandiben Patel, appeared a surprise candidate for the post.
Ahead of today’s legislature party meeting, the names of two Union Ministers from Gujarat — Mansukh Mandaviya and Parshottam Rupala — the controversial Lakshadweep administrator Praful Khoda Patel, and state agriculture minister RC Faldu wee doing the rounds.
Mr Patel was the part of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority.
Vijay Rupani stepped down on Saturday — 15 months ahead of the state elections — in a surprise move amid whispers that his handling of the second wave of Covid and his style of functioning had upset the Central leadership.
But his replacement indicates that electoral arithmetic had a key role in the move. The Patidar community, one of the politically crucial groups in the state, has been upset with the BJP and have been demanding that a member of the community be picked for the top post.
Mr Rupani was the fourth Chief Minister to be replaced in the BJP ruled states so far this year.
The list includes BS Yediyurappa in Karnataka who was replaced in July. In Uttarakhand, Tirath Singh Rawat quit in July — barely four months after replacing Trivendra Rawat.
In Gujarat, Mr Rupani was installed in 2016 – 16 months ahead of elections – after the removal of Anandiben Patel.