[dropcap]A[/dropcap] Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) Swayamsevak, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah’s closed aide, Bharatiya Janata Party’s Gujarat unit chief, Vijay Rupani is chosen as next Gujarat’s Chief Minister. Much speculated Nitin Patel will be his deputy. Rupani represents Rajkot West in the Gujarat Assembly. He was Transport, Labour and Water Supplies Minister in the Anandiben Patel’s Cabinet. His performance as a minister may not be holding much merits but he is very close to the two power holders this time and also no non-sense man. He is 60 years old, keeps low profile and is very humble.
Rupani began his political innings as a student activist attached to ABVP, the student wing of the RSS. After student life, he naturally moved to RSS and then to the BJP. He has been the Mayor of Rajkot and served as a minister in Narendra Modi’s cabinet when latter was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.
Rupani was made president of Bharatiya Janata Party’s Gujarat unit in February this year. His appointment was delayed by almost a month owing to differences between Anandiben Patel and BJP President Amit Shah. He replaced the Leuva Patidar leader, R C Faldu, and his appointment came at a time when the party was facing serious challenges from the community. The appointment was seen as a mark of confidence, the BJP brass had on the leader from the Baniya community.
A Jain Baniya, Rupani belongs to the minority community in the state. Jains make up only one per cent of Gujarat’s population while Baniyas comprise three per cent. The BJP selected a non-other backward classes and non-Patel leader at the helm to avoid a tricky political situation. Many see Rupani as a close aide of Amit Shahd. Hence, his appointment hinted at the latter’s increased indirect control of the state unit, where rumours of factionalism are rife.
As I said earlier, he started his political career as a student activist, and eventually joined the RSS and thereafter the Jan Sangh in 1971. He is the only minister in the state Cabinet to have been jailed during the Emergency. He has also been the party’s general secretary and was an active member of the students’ wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). Vijay holds a Bachelor of Arts and LLB degree. Rupani is known to have Narendra Modi’s support and in August 2014, when Vajubhai Vala, the incumbent speaker of Gujarat Legislative Assembly, resigned as the MLA from Rajkot West, Rupani was nominated by the BJP to contest his vacant seat. He won the bye-poll in October 2014 by a handsome margin.
The new CM pick comes after days of speculation over whether Amit Shah would take charge as the Chief Minister. The air however was cleared on Wednesday when senior leader Venkaiah Naidu categorically stated that Shah would continue in his national role. Anandiben Patel tendered her resignation to Governor OP Kohli, hours after the BJP’s parliamentary board accepted it. Patel had been at the receiving end of a string of high-pressure crises in Gujarat. She had received intense criticism for her handling of the protests demanding reservation for the powerful Patidar community. She has also been targeted over the protests by Dalit organisations in the aftermath of the beatings in Una.
Nitin Patel is nominated as a deputy Chief Minister. Patel is party’s current second-in-command in Gujarat and had shown his interest in serving as the state Chief Minister during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Contesting his first assembly elections in the state in 1995, Nitin Patel has been a part and member of the BJP for the last 30 years. He has been serving at various important positions in every successive government. Belonging to the Patidar community, he has been designated as Dy.CM, especially to represent the party in the assembly elections, which will be held in 2017. Patel may be able to take the Patidar community into confidence in the aftermath of the Patidar agitation led by Hardik Patel. The 60-year-old minister has held senior positions in the government and also enjoys the backing of the party president Amit Shah and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In 2014, when in the national elections, Narendra Modi was predicted to win, Patel had said that he would be happy to take up the post of the chief minister of Gujarat when Narendra Modi becomes prime minister. However, today to set the correct caste equations in state politics, Patel is given deputy CM’s post.
Two senior citizens are chosen for BJP in Gujarat. Let’s see, how they can restore the glory of Modi’s legacy in the state.
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