A day before the “election” of the next Gujarat BJP president, state Transport Minister Vijay Rupani visited senior BJP leader and former chief minister Keshubhai Patel at the latter’s residence here on Thursday. Rupani was offered sweets by Patel during the meeting.
Rupani, also minister for labour and employment in the Anandiben Patel government, is tipped to be the 10th Gujarat BJP president, succeeding Ranchoddas (R C) Faldu, a Leuva Patel from Jamnagar. Rupani will be the first state BJP chief from the Jain-Vaniya community. Sources close to him said that Rupani visited Patel to meet him since the former had worked for the party in Rajkot under the latter’s guidance for years.
Rupani’s elder brother, Pravin, said in Rajkot that his brother’s name has been finalised. Sources in the party also confirmed Rupani would most likely get the job. Rupani, if elected, will also lead the party in next year’s assembly polls.
After meeting Patel at his residence in Gandhinagar, Rupani said, “I came to seek the blessings of Patel since we both come from the same city (Rajkot). He is a veteran politician and played a very important role in shaping my career.”
He, however, did not reply to queries related to his likely appointment to the party post. The new state president will head the party at a time when it’s passing through a tough phase in the wake of the Patel agitation and drubbing in local body polls late last year.
The delay in appointing a new head in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi fuelled speculation about differences in the leadership over the final choice.
Earlier, the state unit had said the new Gujarat BJP president will be appointed after ‘Makarsankranti’ (January 15), but that did not happen. The term of current Gujarat BJP head R C Faldu ended long back.