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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

After CM change, all-new ministry for Gujarat; 7 OBCs, 7 Patidars in

In the shake-up involving balancing of caste and regional representation, and induction of younger leaders, those dropped included powerful Deputy CM Nitin Patel.

Written by Parimal A Dabhi | Gandhinagar |
Updated: September 17, 2021 1:16:16 am
Gujarat's new Cabinet Ministers take oath at the Raj Bhawan in Gandhinagar on Thursday. (Express Photo: Nirmal Harindran)

CALLING IT a “democratic experiment”, the BJP Thursday ushered in an entirely new ministry in Gujarat, replacing all the existing names, just over a year ahead of the Assembly elections in the state. Only three in the government of Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, a first-time MLA who took oath on September 13, have held ministerial posts earlier.

In the shake-up involving balancing of caste and regional representation, and induction of younger leaders, those dropped included powerful Deputy CM Nitin Patel. Asked if leaders were aggrieved over the changes — the BJP put off the swearing-in scheduled for Wednesday amid the anger — Nitin Patel said, “If some community, an individual or district gets disgruntled, then it is not my responsibility now to look into it.”

The new No. 2 in the 25-member Cabinet is Rajendra Trivedi, who resigned as Assembly Speaker ahead of Thursday’s oath-taking. A lawyer by profession, the MLA from Raopura in Vadodara had defended several accused in the 2002 Best Bakery massacre case.

While Bhupendra Patel continues to mostly hold the same portfolios as his predecessor Vijay Rupani — including Home, Ports, Mines and Minerals, and the General Administration Department — Trivedi got Revenue apart from Law and Justice. The Finance portfolio went to Kanu Desai.

Ministers take oath at the Raj Bhawan in Gandhinagar on Thursday. (Express Photo: Nirmal Harindran)

Congratulating the new ministers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “These are outstanding Karyakartas who have devoted their lives to public service and spreading our Party’s development agenda.”

Speaking to the press, Gujarat BJP in-charge and Union minister Bhupender Yadav, who oversaw the revamp, said the appointment of an entirely new Council of Ministers was a “democratic experiment” for the development of the party and for nursing a new leadership. He denied any discontent, saying the move had “the complete consent of all the leaders”.

Seven of the new ministers belong to OBC communities, while an equal number are Patidars. There are four tribals, and two each from the Brahmin, Kshatriya and Dalit communities, apart from one Jain (Rupani was the first Jain CM of Gujarat). Two are women — a Dalit and a tribal.

While the average age of the outgoing Vijay Rupani Cabinet was 60.5, for the new ministry it is 53.4 years.

Three of the new ministers had won on Congress tickets in the 2017 Assembly elections before crossing over to the BJP — Raghavji Patel, Jitu Chaudhary and Brijesh Merja. The Rupani ministry too had three Congress turncoats.

There are 10 Cabinet-rank, five ministers of state (MoS) with Independent charge and nine MoS in the new ministry, apart from Bhupendra Patel, 59, himself. Along with Trivedi, 67, just Raghavji Patel and Kiritsinh Rana have previously served as ministers. An MLA from Jamnagar (Rural), Raghavji was one of the Congress MLAs who is believed to have ‘cross voted’ in favour of BJP candidates during the high-voltage Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections of August 2017, which the late Ahmed Patel narrowly won.

The 10 Cabinet ministers include Trivedi (Raopura MLA); Jitu Vaghani (Bhavnagar West); Rushikesh Patel (Visnagar); Purnesh Modi (Surat West); Raghavji Patel (Jamnagar Rural); Kanu Desai (Pardi); Kiritsinh Rana (Limbdi); Naresh Patel (Gandevi); Pradip Parmar (Asarva); and Arjunsinh Chauhan (Mahemdavad).

The new Health Minister is Rushikesh, while Majura legislator Harsh Sanghavi has been named MoS, Home.

The OBC ministers are Purnesh Modi (Surat West), who had filed a defamation case against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi; Arjunsinh Chauhan (Mahemdavad); Jagdish Panchal (Nikol); Mukesh Patel (Olpad); Gajendra Parmar (Prantij); Raghavji Makwana (Mahuva); and Devabhai Malam (Keshod).

Apart from the CM himself, the Patidars in the ministry include former BJP president Jitu Vaghani (Bhavnagar West); Rushikesh (Visnagar); Brijesh Merja (Morbi); Arvind Raiyani (Rajkot East); Raghavji Patel (Jamnagar Rural); and Vinod Moradiya (Katargam). It was from Visnagar in Mehsana that the Patidar reservation agitation led by Hardik Patel had first come into prominence.

The tribal ministers include Naresh Patel (Gandevi); Jitu Chaudhary (Kaprada); Nimisha Suthar (Morva Hadaf); and Kuber Dindor (Santrampur). The Dalit community is represented by Pradip Parmar (Asarva) and Manisha Vakil (Vadodara City).

The Brahmin ministers are Trivedi and Kanu Desai (Pardi MLA). The Kshatriyas include Kiritsinh Rana (Limbdi) and Kiritsinh Vaghela (Kankrej). Harsh Sanghavi (Majura) is a Jain from Surat known to be close to BJP state chief C R Paatil.

The women ministers are Manisha Vakil, a Dalit MLA considered close to former Gujarat CM and current Governor of Uttar Pradesh Anandiben Patel, and Nimisha Suthar, the tribal legislator from Morva Hadaf.

Former Deputy CM Nitin Patel said it was okay to feel disappointed over losing a ministry. “It is natural that some get in and some get out. Those who get in will be happy and those who do not will be unhappy. It is natural.”

About the party’s prospects in the 2022 Assembly elections, he said, “Now, new leaders have got the responsibility. So, they have to take the work forward.”

Following are the list of Cabinet and Ministers of State:

Cabinet Ministers

Rajendra Trivedi – Ravpura

Jitu Vaghani – Bhavnagar West

Rishikesh Patel – Visnagar

Purnesh Modi – Surat

Raghavji Patel – Jamnagar

Kanu Desai – Pardi

Kiritsinh Rana – Limbdi

Naresh Patel (ST) – Gandevi

Pradip Parmar (SC) – Asarva

Arjunsinh Chauhan – Mehmdavad

Ministers of State (Independent Charge)

Harsh Sanghvi – Majura

Jagdish Panchal – Nikol

Brijesh Merja – Morbi

Jitu Chaudhary (ST) – Kaprada

Manisha Vakil (SC) – Vadodara City

Ministers of State

Mukesh Patel – Olpad

Nimisha Suthar (ST) – Motvahadaf

Arvind Raiyani – Rajkot (East)

Kuber Dindor (ST) – Santrampur

Kirtisinh Vaghela – Kankrej

Gajendra Parmar – Prantij

Raghavji Makwana – Mahuva

Vinod Moradia – Katargam

Devabhai Malam – Keshod

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