BJP's surprise pick Bhupendra Patel has sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Gujarat on Monday, two days after Vijay Rupani’s exit and a year ahead of the state's assembly polls.
He is the 17th chieff minister of Gujarat. Union Home Minister Amit Shah was present at the oath-taking ceremony.
Patel, a first-term MLA from the constituency of former Chief Minister and the current UP governor, Anandiben Patel, was unanimously elected BJP legislature party leader on Sunday.
The party’s CM choice took many by surprise as the low-profile Patel was not seen among the top contenders for the post.
Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi congratulated Patel, saying he will certainly enrich Gujarat's growth trajectory.
Congratulations to Bhupendra Bhai on taking oath as CM of Gujarat. I have known him for years and have seen his exemplary work, be it in the BJP Organisation or in civic administration and community service. He will certainly enrich Gujarat’s growth trajectory. @Bhupendrapbjp— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 13, 2021
Union Home Minister Amit Shah had earlier tweeted, “I believe that under the guidance of Narendra Modi, the state’s sustainable development will keep up its momentum,”
A BJP spokesperson said that PM Modi phoned Patel on Sunday and congratulated him.
Born in Ahmedabad, Patel won the Ghatlodia seat by a margin of over 1.17 lakh votes in 2017, the highest one in that poll. Ghatlodia is part of the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency which is represented by Amit Shah.
Patel, a civil engineering diploma holder, has also served as the Ahmedabad municipal councillor and the chairperson of the Standing Committee of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority. He is also a trustee at the Patidar organisation's Sardardham and Vishwa Umiya Foundation.
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With the state's Assembly polls scheduled in December 2022, the BJP is counting on Bhupendra Patel, a Patidar, to lead the party successfully. In the 2017 Assembly elections, BJP won 99 out of 182 seats and Congress, 77.
The Patidars are a dominant caste lobby in Gujarat with an influential control over the electoral votes and they dominate the political economy with a high hand over education, realty and cooperative sectors.
At Sunday’s legislature party meeting, the proposal to elect Patel as the legislative party leader was moved by the outgoing CM Vijay Rupani, who resigned on Saturday, 15 months ahead of the state Assembly polls. This sudden move surprised many political observers.
Most of the 112 MLAs of the party in the 182-member Assembly were present at the meeting, BJP sources said.
Patel has never held a ministerial post, just like PM Narendra Modi, who was never a minister in Gujarat before he became the 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.
Gujarat BJP chief C R Patil said Patel's work at the grass root-level, his hold on the cooperative sector, association with party workers and administrative abilities were among the factors that led to his elevation.
(With PTI Inputs)