Saurabh Patel, a key minister in Narendra Modi’s regime, was dropped from the new ministry sworn in Sunday under chief minister Vijay Rupani.
Patel, who had the finance, energy and petrochemicals and Industries portfolio was among the four ministers from the Anandiben Patel government who were dropped. The other ministers dropped are social justice minister Ramanlal Vora, minister for women and child welfare Vasuben Trivedi and minister of state for home Rajnikant Patel.
Nirmala Wadhwani, an MLA from Naroda, the constituency earlier represented by Maya Kodnani, now accused in the Naroda Patia case, is the only woman minister in the new government, and a first time minister.
Vijay Rupani was on Sunday sworn in as the 16th chief minister of Gujarat — the third since the last assembly elections of 2012 — in the presence of BJP president Amit Shah, union ministers, chief ministers of BJP-ruled states and party veteran L K Advani. Nitin Patel, who became Deputy Chief Minister, and 23 ministers also took oath of office at the Mahatma Mandir.
While sources said that Patel may move to the Centre, he was among the nine ministers from Anandiben Patel’s government to be dropped, including Ramanlal Vora, Vasuben Trivedi, Rajnikant Patel, Chhatrasinh Mori, Govindbhai Patel, Tarachand Chheda, Mangubhai Patel and Kantibhai Gamit.
With the assembly elections coming up next year, the composition of Rupani’s team reflected caste and regional calculations, with more weightage given to the Patidar community and the Saurashtra region where the Chief Minister hails from. Sunday’s swearing-in capped, at least for now, a tumultuous period for the state BJP, which has faced such a deep divide for the first time in the last 15 years.
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It was also clear that the change at the helm, following the Patidar quota agitation and the Dalit protests, carried the stamp of Shah as slogans in praise of the party chief, including ‘Amitbhai, tum aage badho, hum tumhare saath hain (Amit Shah, you move forward, we are with you)’, rang out inside the central hall of the venue after the swearing-in ceremony. Supporters wearing white T-shirts with images of Modi and Shah printed on them cheered from the gathering, as busloads of people from Saurashtra crowded the precincts of the Mahatma Mandir.
It was just two years ago, in the same hall, that Modi had handed over charge to Anandiben.