In a surprising development, the BJP leadership on Friday announced that Vijay Rupani will be the new chief minister of Gujarat.
Nitin Patel who was widely tipped to be the successor of Anandiben Patel has been made the deputy chief minister.
Union Minister and former BJP president, Nitin Gadkari made the announcement in Gujarat on Friday.
BJP President Amit Shah had arrived in the state on Thursday night to pick the new chief minister.
Vijay Rupani & Nitin Patel being felicitated by Nitin Gadkari, Amit Shah & Anandiben Patel in Gandhinagar (Gujarat) pic.twitter.com/F1JZJMNgdn
— ANI (@ANI_news) August 5, 2016
Like most BJP leaders, Rupani has had his roots in the RSS and the ABVP, the students’ wing of the BJP.
Rupani emerged as the choice for the top slot at the legislature party meeting attended by BJP chief Amit Shah and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, though it was widely speculated that the mantle would fall on Nitin Patel.
After the meeting Gadkari announced that Rupani would be the new Chief Minister of Gujarat.
Rupani would be tasked with leading the party in the assembly polls due next year, overcoming the multiple challenges faced by it in the home state of prime minister Narendra Modi.
Anandiben Patel announced her decision to resign through a Facebook post last week, saying she thought it fit to step down since as she will turn 75 this November, the age cap set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the central and the state ministries.
BJP president Amit Shah has since yesterday held deliberations with party leaders to finalise the candidate.
BJP’s parliamentary board accepted Anandiben Patel’s offer to resign on Monday at its meeting in Delhi, setting in motion the process of choosing the new Chief Minister.
The BJP, in power in Gujarat for long, has been facing grim challenges like Patel quota stir and Dalit unrest in the wake of widely condemned dalit flogging incident in Una apart from reversals in rural areas in civic polls, which together seem to have dented its image and support base,prompting Aanandiben to quit.
Prior to contesting the Rajkot West assembly seat that was vacated by Vajubhai Vala, who was appointed the Governor of Karnataka, Rupani’s political career was confined to Saurashtra region of the state. He was a councillor and subsequently the mayor of the Rajkot civic body, and also a Member of Parliament from Rajkot.