C R Paatil, president of the Gujarat BJP unit, has said the party’s Chief Minister, Bhupendra Patel, will be “repeated” for another term. The Gujarat assembly elections are due later this year.
Speaking at an event hosted by a television channel, TV9, on Saturday, Paatil also dismissed any challenge from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), and said the Congress would remain in second place.
Asked who would be the party’s next chief minister, Paatil said: “Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel has done good work and he would be repeated (for another term)”. Patel, a first-time MLA, was the party’s surprise choice as chief minister after Vijay Rupani’s exit in September last year.
Asked why two ministers, Rajendra Trivedi and Purnesh Modi, were stripped of two important portfolios – revenue and roads & buildings respectively — just months before the elections, Paatil said: “When the elections are ahead, work needs to be done at a fast pace. This was an issue, and it is the reason why the two portfolios were handed to the honourable chief minister. Earlier, time was lost as the cabinet ministers sent their decisions for approval to the CM; now, these decisions will be taken faster”.
While Minister of State for Home, Harsh Sanghavi, has been given additional charge of the revenue department, Minister of State for Industries Jagdish Vishwakarma has been given roads and buildings. Trivedi and Modi continue to hold their other portfolios.
Paatil said the BJP has a few “brahmastras”, including the “popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the master planning of Union Home Minister Amit Shah”, that will help it win the Assembly elections.
He said the ticket distribution would be left to Modi and Shah. “I have decided to hand over the biodata of all the ticket aspirants to them. They know each karyakarta… we will leave the entire decision to them. That way, nobody who is denied a ticket will regret that it would not have happened if the decision had gone to Delhi for approval,” he said.
On the Opposition, Paatil said the Congress’s support base had “eroded” from its earlier over 35 per cent vote share, but “15-18 per cent of its vote share was secure”. He said the Congress is the “undisputed No. 2”, adding that historically, Gujarat has never seen a triangular contest in the polls.
“The Congress is trying to stand up, but due to some incidents at the centre or locally… it is not able to do so… that leaves a major question,” he said.
Dismissing any challenge posed by AAP, Paatil claimed the party won 27 seats in the Surat Municipal Corporation only because “tickets were given to PAAS (Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti) workers”.
Asked about the withdrawal of the stray cattle Bill, Paatil said the law was a decision “taken in haste”, and the party had to withdraw it after it got representations against it.