Vijay Rupani and Nitin Patel were sworn in as the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister of Gujarat respectively on Sunday at a swearing-in ceremony in Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar. Governor O P Kohli administered the oath of office and secrecy to 60-year-old Rupani and Patel. Eight Cabinet rank ministers and 16 other ministers also took oath during the ceremony.
The swearing-in ceremony was attended by BJP President Amit Shah, veteran BJP leader L K Advani,Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, former chief minister Anandiben Patel among other BJP leaders. Nine ministers from the Anandiben government have been dropped. Former state minister for Home Rajnibhai Patel and Women and Child Development Minister Vasuben Trivedi, considered as loyals of Anandiben
Patel, have been dropped from the new Cabinet. This is the first instance in Gujarat of a deputy Chief Minister in a BJP government.
The others who were dropped from Rupani’s Cabinet include Finance Minister Saurabh Patel, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Ramanlal Vora and Science and Technology Minister Govind Patel.
Rupani took charge as the Chief Minister of Gujarat on Sunday, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where BJP is grappling with unrest due to the Patel quota stir and attacks on Dalits ahead of the high-stake Assembly elections scheduled next year. Rupani met Governor O P Kohli on Saturday and staked claim to form the government, a day after he was elected by BJP legislators to succeed Anandiben Patel, with the central leadership playing a vital role in the choice.
Anandiben had insisted on Nitin Patel as her successor, while Shah stood firm by Rupani. As a compromise formula, Patel was elevated to be Deputy Chief Minister after intervention of the central leadership, including Modi. Selection of Rupani, who belongs to Jain Baniya community, is being seen as a deft move by the party to avoid the impression of favouring any major segment of the society over others.
Rupani was the most junior minister in the Anandiben cabinet while Patel the most senior. Rupani’s constituency of Rajkot West is where Prime Minister Narendra Modi won his first electoral contest to become chief minister in 2002. Rupani is also the third CM of Gujarat to hail from Rajkot, after Ghanshyam Oza and Keshubhai Patel.
Rupani was born in Rangoon (now Yangon) in 1956. His father Rasiklal was a grain merchant there. Months later, the family shifted to Rajkot due to instability in Myanmar. Rasiklal became a trader of ball-bearings in Rajkot while Rupani, the youngest of his seven sons, became an RSS swayamsevak as a student. He became active in student politics while pursing his BA degree from Dharmendrasinhji Arts College. Rupani was also jailed during the Emergency.