Narendra Modi resigned as Gujarat chief minister today after 13 years in office to head to Delhi where he will be sworn in as the country’s next prime minister on Monday next. The ruling BJP’s legislators have picked Gujarat’s longest serving minister Anandiben Patel to replace him.
An emotional Ms Patel, 72, wiped her eyes and said, “Today when our beloved leaders are going to Delhi, there are tears in one eye and happiness in the other. Happiness because they are going to Delhi to wipe the tears of millions of Indians. I wish Narendra Modi all the best.”
She will be Gujarat’s first woman chief minister.
Before resigning, Mr. Modi attended a special session of the Gujarat assembly where members spoke about him.
“People are curious about the Gujarat model. Bipartisanship is the Gujarat model,” he said and later added, “The world is praising me. But being praised here has its own charm”.
Ms Patel, who is the revenue minister, enjoys the complete trust of the Prime Minister-elect, and is also a non-controversial choice. She has stood by Mr. Modi for many years even before he took over as Gujarat chief minister, including when in the mid 1990s, Mr. Modi was banished from state politics after a confrontation with other state leaders.
She is known for her administrative acumen and has handled portfolios such as education and urban development too.
The senior BJP leader, who was elected to the state assembly in 2012 from Ghatlodiya in Ahmedabad by margin of 1.10 lakh votes, is said to be a strict disciplinarian and a hard task-master. When Mr. Modi began his grueling campaign schedule for the general elections, he picked Ms Patel to lead the Group of Ministers that was set up to run the state government.
Her biggest limitation, her colleagues say, is her lack of connect with the party’s grassroot-level workers and her inaccessibility.