As the announcement of the new chief minister of Gujarat comes nearer, all eyes are turning towards Nitin Patel. Him being the top choice for the new chief minister is also a direct result of his surname, with the BJP vying for the support of the Patidar community. Patel is party’s current second-in-command in Gujarat and had shown his interest in serving as the state Chief Minister during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Contesting his first assembly elections in the state in 1995, Nitin Patel has been a part and member of the BJP for the last 30 years. He has been serving at various important positions in every successive government. Belonging to the Patidar community, Patel is being seen as a viable CM candidate, especially to represent the party in the assembly elections which will be held in 2017. Patel may be able to take the Patidar community into confidence in the aftermath of the Patidar agitation led by Hardik Patel.
Currently a Cabinet Minister for Health, Medical Education, Family Welfare, Road and Building, Capital Project in government of Gujarat, he was elected to the Gujarat Legislative Assembly from Mehsana in 2012. Previously, he was a cabinet minister for water supply, water resources, (excluding Kalpsar Division), Urban Development and Urban Housing.
The 60-year-old minister has held senior positions in the government and also enjoys the backing of the party president Amit Shah and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In 2014, when in the national elections, Narendra Modi was predicted to win, Patel had said that he would be happy to take up the post of the chief minister of Gujarat when Narendra Modi becomes prime minister.
While he hasn’t made national headlines very often, earlier in 2016, he had allegedly called the Pathankot attack a ‘small incident’. While Congress and AAP slammed his comments, Patel denied saying any such thing. “I had stated that the Indian Army is the best in the world and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a leader with strong will-power. I had also said that several terrorists have been killed on the border since Modi took over as Prime Minister,” he later told The Indian Express.
As speculations are coming to a rest with the announcement slated to be made at 4 pm, Nitin Patel has said that the party’s decision will be accepted by all. “Whatever decision is taken in the meeting (Gujarat BJP legislature party meet) will be acceptable to all,” he told ANI.