In a surprise move, BJP state chief Vijay Rupani has been named the new Chief Minister of Gujarat after a meeting of the BJP legislators at State Party headquarter Shree Kamalam here on Friday. For the past few hours, the name of Nitin Patel was almost confirmed as the person to take over from Anandiben Patel, who resigned a few days ago.
It is not known what transpired in the meeting resulting in this change in name. The meeting was held in the presence of national BJP president Amit Shah and central observers Nitin Gadkari and Saroj Pandey. Besides these, national vice-president Parshottam Rupala, State in-charge Dinesh Sharma and national organising Secretary V Satish were also present.
Health Minister and a frontrunner for the coveted post Nitin Patel has said that whoever will be chosen at Friday’s meeting, he along with all MLAs will support him wholeheartedly. By Friday afternoon, after his name emerged as almost certain, Patel even gave television interviews accepting congratulations.
Rupani had earlier bowed out of the race for CM. After his name as Anandiben’s likely successor was doing the rounds, Rupani had said that his “priority” is “organisation work”. When he was asked if he was in the race, Rupani had said, “I have been entrusted with party organisation. What can be more important work than that… Party has given me organisation work, I am fortunate… and that is my priority also… I am very satisfied with the organisation work.”
On Wednesday, former chief minister Anandiben Patel submitted her resignation to Governor O P Kohli after BJP leaders decided to accept her offer to quit the post.
Patel wrote in a Facebook post earlier urging the BJP to relieve her from the post. She said she had sought to resign two months earlier from the party to give enough time to the new person to prepare for important events such as the upcoming ‘Vibrant Gujarat Summit’.
Anandiben’s government was criticised for its handling of the outrage created by the public flogging of four Dalit men by cow protection groups.