In a surprise move, Bhupendrabhai Patel was on Sunday elected as the new chief minister of Gujarat. The crucial decision was taken at a meeting of BJP leaders in Gandhinagar wherein Patel was unanimously elected BJP legislature party leader. Patel won the 2017 Gujarat Legislative Assembly elections from Ghatlodia constituency, defeating Congress candidate Shashikant Patel by over one lakh votes, the highest winning margin in the 2017 Gujarat polls.
Post the announcement, Patel told reporters that he was grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief J P Nadda, and Union minister Amit Shah for the trust they reposed in him. He said he was also grateful to the trust reposed in him by the Gujarat leadership, including outgoing CM Vijay Rupani and Deputy CM Nitin Patel, C R Paatil and other leaders. He said the blessing of former CM Anandiben Patel were with him all the time.
"The government has worked well so that development reaches the last person. We will plan anew and discuss with the organisation to take forward the development works," the new chief minister said.
Patel will succeed Vijay Rupani, who resigned from his post on Saturday, in a sudden announcement almost a year before the state goes to polls. He met the governor Acharya Devvrat at Raj Bhavan late Sunday and staked claim to form the government. Patel will be sworn-in on Monday. The ceremony will begin at 2.20 pm.
BJP had appointed Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Prahlad Joshi as central observers for the legislature party meeting to elect the new chief minister. Tomar met state BJP chief C R Paatil on Sunday morning.
"Bhupendra Patel has been elected as the new leader of BJP legislative party. He will be sworn in as the Gujarat CM soon," Union Minister and BJP's Gujarat in-charge Tomar said after the party's legislative meeting.
Rupani (65), the fourth chief minister to demit office in BJP-ruled states during the coronavirus pandemic, was sworn in as chief minister – his second stint as CM - in December 2017. He first became the chief minister on August 7, 2016, following the resignation of incumbent Anandiben Patel, and continued in the office after the BJP's victory in the 2017 Assembly elections.
Rupani said Bhupendra Patel is "capable" while exuding confidence of BJP's win in the forthcoming assembly election.
"Bhupendra Patel is capable. We believe BJP will win the upcoming elections in the state under his leadership," he said.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah congratulated Bhupendrabhai Patel and hoped that the state's development journey will get new energy and momentum with this decision.
NITIN PATEL MISSES THE BUS AGAIN?
Deputy CM Nitin Patel, who has once again missed the bus, said he has seen many ups and downs, and asserted that nobody can "throw him out" as he lives in people's heart. Patel, while addressing people during a function in Mehsana town on Sunday evening, also said in a lighter vein that he was not the only one who had missed the bus as there were "many others" like him.
There was speculation that he was unhappy after Bhupendra Patel was chosen as the next chief minister in a meeting of BJP MLAs at the party headquarters 'Kamalam' in Gandhinagar on Sunday, a day after Vijay Rupani tendered his resignation from the top post. Before that, Nitin Patel, who represents Mehsana Assembly constituency, was being seen as one of the top contenders for the post. However, Patel said there was no substance in such claims.
A LOOK AT BHUPENDRABHAI PATEL'S PROFILE
- He is a first-time MLA from Ghatlodia seat, which was earlier held by Anandiben Patel.
- Fondly called 'Dada' by many (Rupani is called ‘Bhai’), Patel is considered close to former Gujarat chief minister and present Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel. His Assembly constituency is part of the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat represented by Union minister Amit Shah.
- Earlier, Bhupendrabhai Patel served as a municipal councillor in Ahmedabad. He has served as the chairman of Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA) and used to head the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation standing committee.
- He holds a diploma in civil engineering.
- According to a political observor, Bhupendra Patel’s name was not in the long list of probables being discussed in state political circles and in a way the first term MLA emerged as the dark horse.
- He belongs to the influential Patel community.
- Patel has never held a ministerial post, just like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was never a minister when he became Gujarat CM 20 years ago. Modi was sworn in as CM on October 7, 2001, and became an MLA on February 24, 2002, by winning the Rajkot seat bypoll.
- A soft-spoken leader, Patel has had a meteoric rise in state politics, starting at the municipality level. He contested his maiden Assembly election in 2017 and won Ghatlodia constituency in Ahmedabad by over 1.17 lakh votes, the highest victory margin in the state during that election.
READ MORE: Vijay Rupani resigned voluntarily