In a move that surprised many, Bharatiya Janata Party state chief Vijay Rupani has been named the Gujarat Chief Minister, with Nitin Patel his Deputy after a meeting of the BJP legislators at State Party headquarter Shree Kamalam on Friday. Patel’s name was doing the rounds for the past few hours who was almost confirmed as the successor to Anandiben Patel.
After Rupani’s name was announced, he said, “The responsibility I have been handed is great and we (Rupani & Nitin Patel) are thankful for this.”
“Thank all for giving us such a big opportunity, will put in all the efforts to make Gujarat the role model of India,” added Rupani.
Commenting on the development, Union Minister for Roads and Transport, Nitin Gadkari said the decision was unanimous. “Discussions were ongoing for past few days, decision that’s been made is unanimous,” said Gadkari.
“We discussed it with everyone including PM; after that this decision was made,” added Gadkari.
While it’s not known what really transpired in the meeting that resulted in the name change, what’s clear is that 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.