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BJP names Bhupendra Patel as new CM for Gujarat
Confident to win upcoming 2022 elections under Patel’s leadership, says outgoing CM Vijay Rupani
The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) sprang a surprise by naming a first-time sitting MLA Bhupendra Patel as the new Chief Minister of Gujarat on Sunday.
A legislator from Ghatlodia in Ahmedabad and a builder by profession, Patel was chosen unanimously at the BJP legislative party’s meeting held at the State party headquarter – Kamalam – in Gandhinagar on Sunday afternoon.
This comes a day after the incumbent Vijay Rupani suddenly resigned on Saturday without citing any reasons.
Earlier in the day a core committee meeting was held in the presence of Union Ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Prahlad Joshi, who were sent as Central party observers to choose a CM face for the party, which is preparing for a tough battle in the upcoming Assembly elections in December 2022.
The swearing-in of the new Chief Minister and the Cabinet is likely on Monday.
While the decision on Patel’s name has surprised many within the party and outside, the builder from Ghatlodia in Ahmedabad city is now seen as a calculated move to pacify the disgruntled groups of the Patidar community – a wealthy and politically influential community holding nearly 15 per cent of the total voter base in the State.
“We are confident of winning the upcoming elections under his (Patel’s) leadership,” said C R Paatil, Gujarat BJP chief in his address.
In his comments, outgoing Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said, “The BJP is a party with a difference. Today is an example of it. We have a new leadership for the elections and all the MLAs will extend all support to him.”
“Bhupendrabhai has been a standing committee chairman in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and chairman of the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA). He brings with him administrative experience. I am confident that the development journey started by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will continue under his leadership,” Rupani said.
Bhupendra Patel holds a diploma in Civil Engineering and has held positions in Patidar trusts and organisations, including Sardar Dham and World Umiya Foundation, among others.
The BJP’s performance in the last election in 2017 was the weakest since the party first came to power in 1995. In the 2017 assembly polls, the party could only manage a thin majority with 99 seats in a 182-seat house under Rupani’s chief ministership.
On an action-packed Sunday, senior BJP leaders, including Gujarat in-charge BL Santosh, Organisation Secretary Ratnakar, Union Ministers Mansukh Mandaviya and Parshottam Rupala, and senior party leaders Bhupendra Yadav, besides Gujarat BJP chief, C R Paatil, held meetings with Central observers Tomar and Joshi.
While the names of various probables were being circulated on social media and in the news, the final seal on Bhupendra Patel’s name raised curiosity about the party’s strategy for the upcoming Assembly polls. The BJP was looking to revamp its image ahead of the polls amidst fears of a growing anti-incumbency and waning popularity of the current leadership.
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